For a number of years we have been publishing data on Australian visas from the Department of Homeland Security. The information is released at different times of the year, and below is the latest data.
Given the past growth in the number of Australians in New York and other large cities, a persistent question is how many Aussies are living in the US, and how many are just visiting?
The latest data from the DHS indicates that for the first time in a decade, the number of Australians on non-immigrant visas dropped by more than 3.5%, driven by a significant drop in the number of E-3 visa approvals in 2018. We also saw a drop of 16.5% in Australians entering the U.S. on a B-1,2 visa.
Australians on Non-Immigrant Temporary Work Visas:
The total number of US temporary worker, non-immigrant visas issued to Australians dropped from 47,454 in 2017, to 45,778 in 2018. This is a decrease of just over 3.5%.
O visas were down from 1,288 in 2017 to 1,235 in 2018, and L visas down from 2,779 in 2017 to 2,642 in 2018. H visas were again up from 650 to 733 in 2018. J visas fell more than 9% from 5,613 to 5,099.
E-1, 2 & 3 visas were up 11,630 in 2017 to 12,318 in 2018, driven by an increase in E-3 renewals and dependents. However, there was a 4.6% decrease in new E-3 approvals, down from 5,657 in 2017 to 5,394 in 2018.
This drop in new E-3 approvals is a significant set back for the Australian Government to retain the exclusivity of the E-3 visas for its citizens.
If future proposed changes to the E-3 visa are approved that include giving unused E-3 visas to other countries, we could see thousands of new job seekers from other countries entering the New York market, further creating headwinds for Australian job seekers.
Had H.R. 7164 not failed by only one vote in the Senate, in 2020 there would be 5,106 E-3 visas available to citizens of other countries. This would equate to an estimated 15,000 new job seekers competing against Australians, eligible for an E-3 visa.
The Australian Community’s Job Fair v2.5 is in part designed to increase the number of Australians successfully find work and apply for an E-3 visa. Details and how to be included are available via the link.
What is remarkable is that both E-3D and E-3R denials grew significantly in 2018 after slight increases in 2017. This indicates that a greater percentage of E-3 applicants with spouses and families had their visa denied.
What is also notable is that we may be seeing the proverbial chickens coming home to roost, with Australians who have self petitioned for an E-3 visa being denied. If the corporation is only supporting the salary of one E-3 employee, the E-3R application is most likely to be denied.
Another remarkable chart is spouses and children on an E-3D, who are not Australian citizens.
In 2016, there were 749 non-Australian citizens on E-3Ds – up 13.3% over 2015 – and 834 in 2017 – up 14.7%. In 2018 however, numbers declined to 779 in 2018.
Tourists vs Residents (2018 Data Pending)
Any Australian who has entered the US is familiar with the I-94 card. It is the final say on how long you have until you must exit the US. If you are on an E-3 and you reenter the US, the I-94 must be dated past your visa renewal date. Mistakes often happen so always check the date in case a mistake is made.
The I-94 admissions by Australian residents who entered only on visa waivers and B visas gives a greater insight into the number of tourists, and the E-3 Hopeful – an Australian who may stay up to six months in the US looking for work.
The 2018 data is still pending, and is not generally released until later in the year. Will there be a sharp decline in Australian I-94 admissions as other 2018 data indicates? We will have to wait and see!
After an initial 53% jump in 2016 to 12,872, and a further increase to 13,320 in 2017, 2018 saw a drop in B-1.2 visas by 16% to 11,116.
Note: In 2018, 17.99% of B-1,2 visa applications were denied. In 2017, a similar number of 17.18% of B-1,2 visa applications were denied, therefore the drop in Australians entering the U.S. on a B-1,2 visa was not due to an increase in denials, but rather, voluntary.
So Where are all the Australians on E-3 Visas? – 2018 Data pending
In 2017 New York continued to lead California as the preferred destination for Australians working on the E-3 visa. Cali was followed by Texas, Washington State and Illinois. Massachusetts pipped Florida with 1005 Aussies settling in Red Sox territory vs 992 cheering for the Marlins!
The DHS data also shows that contrary to the purported 20,000 number of Australians in New York on an E-3 Visa, in 2017 only 14,696 Australians (and their families) were in New York State on E-3 visas.
The number of Australians in New York State on E-3 visas in 2017 was up 13.4% over 2016.
Green Cards (2018 Pending)
in 2017 we did a deeper dive on how Australians are obtaining Green Cards. What may surprise many, is that only a few hundred Australians arrive in the US each year after winning a Green Card in the Diversity lottery. The vast majority obtaining their Green Card from Employers, Marriage and other immediate family members.
In a Nutshell
The 2018 data can be interpreted in many ways, but what is certain is that:
- E-3 visa approvals were down 4.6%
- E-3R visa approvals were up 23.5% indicating that more Australians are staying with their employers.
- E-3R visa denials were also up by more than 7% indicating that USCIS is tightening up on previously approved E-3 visas.
- B-1,2 visas application by Australians were down 16%
- Australians on non-immigrant visas dropped by more than 3.5%
- The yet-to-be released I-94 and Green Card data will shed light on whether there is an overall downward trend in Australians entering the U.S..
About The Australian Community
The Australian Community is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity and its Mission is to connect Australian living in the United States through social. professional and charitable initiatives.
All contributions are fully tax deductible under Section 170 of the IRS Code. The Australian Community is also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Code.