What Happened to the E-3 Visa?
보스톤코리아  2012-05-07, 12:19:43 
By HyunCheon Kim

As the rate of filling up the quota of the H-1B visa has increased about 2-3 times compared to last year, students who look forward to graduate from colleges soon and to get work visas are anxious about their future employment. At the same time, they have turned their attention to the E-3 visa that was discussed during the South Korea-U.S. FTA negotiation.

A student in Boston, Hye-jin Choi, who will be graduating from Boston University this May, said, “Although it’s hard to find a job right now, I’m not thinking about going back to Korea. I hope to find a job here while I stay for 1 year of the OPT period. I’m just worried that the quota of work visas has been quickly reached.” Choi also showed an interest about special work visas for Koreans in the U.S.
Another graduate student, Han-young Park, who is currently seeking an employment sponsorship, said, “I’m afraid about whether I could find a sponsorship before the quota fills up.”

According to the USCIS, between April 2nd, and April 27th, they have received 29,200 H-1B petitions for the 65,000 cap for a bachelor’s degree, and 12,300 petitions for the 20,000 cap for a master’s degree.Compared to last year’s 9,200 bachelor’s degree petitions and 6,600 master’s degree petitions, the current year’s petitions have been filled up 2-3 times faster. The USCIS predicts that if this kind of progress continues, the quota will be fully filled up by the end of June, 2012.

The immigration lawyer, Kiju Sung, said, “Since the quota of the H-1B visa is quickly exhausted, I recommend people who have not applied yet, should make it as soon as possible.” He also said that people who are quickly updated with the latest news and sourceswill probably know about this situation sooner.

Since the issue of H-1B is progressing, more students have started to pay attention to the E-3 visa mentioned during the previous South Korea-U.S. FTA negotiation. Some students are complaining, “FTA has been in effect for two months now. When will the E-3 visa be activated? Or is it that the negotiation of the E-3 has broken down?” The Korean government’s side has not announced yet about any information on E-3 but Kiju Sung clearly said that “there is no information on E-3 visa for Koreans on the USCIS website.”

Moreover, according to one of the presses abroad, Chorus Media Group’s report on February 21st, Duk-su Han, the former ambassador to the U.S., has announced that during the final agreement of the FTA negotiation, the E-3 KOREA visa was apparently not included. Han also said, “We could not reach an agreement on the E-3 visa with the representative of U.S. negotiators since the economy of the U.S. has gone down. Moreover, only the Congressof the U.S. controls the visa quota. However,the U.S. Congress may review the issue of the E-3 visa for Koreans whenthe economy recovers and once the FTA has a positive effect.”

The E-3 for Koreans has been known as a work visa that is similar to the H-1B, and it allows 10,500 cap annually. It was expected by Koreans to gain more opportunities for employment in the U.S. and also it would be a great chance to reinvigorate the economy of the Korean community in the U.S.
Apparently, Chile and Singapore made a successful negotiation with the U.S. through the FTA, and Chilean and Singaporean workers are currently allocated 6800 of H-1B. For Australian workers, 10,500 of E-3 are allocated each year. Korea is the only country without the allotments of a special work visa among the countries that signed a contract with U.S. FTA. However, the issue of E-3 KOREA is still possible judging from the fact that Mexico, Chile, Singapore and Australia previously had precedents in which Congress passed the bill for the E-3 visa after the FTA started.

On the other hand, Lawyer Kiju Sung expressed adifferent opinion; he is not sure if FTA will bring up the same issue they have discussed previously. If they do, the criteria for approval of the E-3 will be much stricter.
While the H-1B allows 3 years for two times (total 6 years) to work, E-3 has to be extended every 2 years until applicants wish to stay in the U.S. Also, unlike the H-1B, if one has the E-3 visa, a spouse can also find employment after applying and receiving a work permit.

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ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
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