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 some remarkable data has recently come to light.
Ask any Aussie visiting New York and they will tell you that NYC is one of the most Australian Friendly cities in the World.
It is true that you can now buy a flat white coffee on nearly every corner, Tim Tams are sold in Target, and you can have a meat pie delivered to your door. For the cost of a subway ride you can access dozens of Australian cafes and restaurants serving everything from Barramundi to Vegemite on toast.
The most often asked question is just how many Aussies are living and working in the US, and how many are just visiting?
Australians on Non-Immigrant Visas: E-3 et al
The alleged “Australian invasion” we read so much about on social media, if it ever existed, is definitely on the decline.
The total number of non-immigrant visas issued to Australians grew only slightly from 47,083 in 2016, to 47,454 in 2017.
Further new E-3 visa approvals in 2017 were up less than 1% from 5,609 in 2016 to 5,657 in 2017.
We did see an increase in E-3 Renewals from 2,026 in 2016 to 2,306 in 2017, up nearly 14%. as more Australians remained on their existing E-3 visas.
The total number of E-3D visas (Dependent Spouses and Children) dropped 3% from 4,299 in 2016 to 4,169 in 2017.
In 2017 E-3 denials were down more than 9% from 737 to 668 and E-3 Renewals were down more than 6% from 432 to 407. Given that new E-3 visas approvals grew less than 1%, this would indicate a better quality of new and renewal E-3 applications.
What is remarkable is that E-D denials grew by more than 17% in 2017 after declining in 2016. This indicates that a greater percentage of E-3 applicants with spouses and families had their visa denied than single E-3 applicants.
One area of remarkable growth is spouses and children of E-3 holders 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% over 2016 – contrary to the overall decline in E-3Ds of 3% in 2017.
Tourists vs Residents
Anytime a non-US citizen or resident enters the US, they must fill out an I-94 card. The vast majority of Australians who are on work visas answer “United States” to Question 8.
However, Aussies visiting the US on Tourist and B-1,2 visas answer “Australia” as to where they live.
The number of Aussies entering the US who answered “Australia” to Question 8, including E-3 Hopefuls, saw a steady decline in numbers since the peak in 2014 (2017 data not yet available). 2016 was down 2% from 2015 which was down 7% from 2014.
If your 2012 business plan assumed a growing market of Australians in the US, then this news may explain your declining gross sales.
After a 53% jump in 2016, 13,320 Australians entered the US on a B-1,2 visa in 2017 – up less than 3% over 2016. This initial jump in B-1,2 visas in 2016 reflects a decrease in Australians entering the US under an ESTA 90 day visa waiver, and opting for a B visa.
So where are all the Australians?
New York continues to lead California as the preferred destination for Australians working on the E-3 visa. Cali is followed by Texas, Washington State, Illinois and then Florida as the preferred destinations.
The DHS data also shows that in contrary to the purported 20,000 number of Australians in New York on an E-3 Visa, in 2016 only 12,957 Australians (and their families) were living and working on E-3 visas in all of New York State.
This number is more than 15% up on 2015, which indicates that New York is still the #1 destination for Australians on E-3 visas. The 2017 data is still pending, and if in line with overall E-3 visa trends, may well flatten out.
Only 437 Australians who obtained Green Cards in 2016 moved to New York with 869 settling in California, 209 in Texas, 168 in Washington State, 158 in Florida, and 111 in Illinois.
In a Nutshell
The data can be interpreted in may ways, but what is certain is that:
- Fewer Australian tourists and E-3 Hopefuls are coming to the US – Down 2%
- Non-immigrant visas issued to Australians remain flat – Up less than 1%
- New E-3 visa approvals are flat – Up less than 1%
- E-3 renewals are up 14%
- Total E-3D visas are down 3%
- E-3D denials increased by 17%
- Non-Australian citizens married to Australians on an E-3 visa is showing remarkable growth, up 14.7% over 2016, in contrast to an overall drop of 3% in E-3D visas.
- New York remains the #1 State for Australians working on E-3 Visas.