As the spouse of an E3 visa holder, I am entitled to work in the USA, but I needed to get an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) issued before I could start earning any money.
It all starts with the form, the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Pretty simple form in the end, but overwhelming with the 12 page instruction booklet that comes with it.
I received some helpful advice from another start-up wife who had been through the process a few months earlier, the most valuable being ‘apply in the category (a)(17)‘. This is the category that is relevant for E3 visa spouses.
Once the form was complete, I chose the E-file option to file it online. This gave me the advantage of paying the $380 fee with a credit card instead of having to get a check or money order sorted out. One downside is that they need your signature to print on the EAD card, so they will send a form for this and ask you to sign and send back.
I then had to mail all the various ‘evidence’ supporting the application, along with passport photos. I did not mail a copy of my husband’s I-94 (arrival card) initially as this was not listed anywhere as being a requirement, but they did chase me up for this afterwards. It was annoying when I was sent a letter requesting more information because the letter was generic and listed all the evidence required for the application, and not which part I had missed. So I ended up getting more passport photos done and re-copying all the evidence again as no-one could tell me over the phone which part they needed. They were not very helpful.
I then had to book an appointment for ‘biometrics’ which is really just fingerprinting and retina scans. A hassle to drive to SF to get this done, but as the Yelp reviews say, it was a very friendly place and I was done in under 10 minutes.
The whole process took 3 months, but finally, my card arrived in the mail and I was ready to start looking for work, except that it arrived on the last day of school just before the 3 month Summer Break was about to start! I ended up enjoying the holidays with my kids before starting the job-hunt.