IMMLAW—The National Consortium of Immigration Law Firms

IMMLAW—The National Consortium of Immigration Law Firms


H-3 Visas for Trainees

Who is Eligible?

The H-3 visa is for an alien coming to the United States to receive training from an employer in any field other than graduate education or training. This covers a specific course of job-related training that has been planned in the United States which may include employment incidental to the training period.

When an application is made in this category, the employer must state that the training is not available in foreign nationals, and why it is necessary for the alien to take training in the U.S.

"Special Exchange Visitors" may also apply for nonimmigrant visas under the H-3 category. A "Special Exchange Visitor" is one who seek to enter the U.S. to gain practical training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. The alien must have a foreign residence they have no intention of abandoning, and they may stay in the U.S. for up to eighteen months. Only 50 aliens per year may enter the U.S. in the Special Exchange Visitor category.

How to Apply

The Form I-129 visa petition must be submitted by the U.S. employer to the INS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the place of intended employment. 

Documentation Requirements

The documentation that is required to be filed with the I-129 petition varies depending on the H-3 sub-category in which the alien is seeking to obtain training.

For those individuals seeking to obtain training in a special education training program, the petition must be filed with the following documentation:

  1. A description of the training, staff, and facilities;
  2. Evidence that the program provides special education to children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, and that any custodial care of the children is only incidental to the training program;
  3. Details of the alien’s participation in the program;
  4. Documentation that the alien is nearing the completion of a baccalaureate degree in special education, already holds such a degree, or has extensive experience in teaching children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

For those individuals seeking to obtain training from an employer in any other field (other than graduate education or training), the petition must be filed with the following documentation:

    1. A detailed description of the structured training program, including the number of classroom hours per week, and the number of hours of on-the-job training per week;
    2. A summary of the prior training and experience of the alien; and
    3. An explanation of why the training is required, whether similar training is available in the alien’s country, how the training will benefit the alien in pursuing a career abroad, and why the employer is willing to incur the cost of providing the training without significant productive labor. 

Spouses and Minor Children

A spouse or unmarried child of an H-3 visa holder is entitled to an H-4 visa, and the same length of stay as the principal. The spouse and dependent minor children cannot accept employment, but can attend school in the United States. 

Duration of the Visa

An H-3 visa for an alien trainee may be valid for a period of up to two years.

An H-3 visa for an alien participant in a special education training program may be valid for up to 18 months.

If H-3 visa holder has remained in the U.S. for the maximum period of time, as stated above, he/she may not seek a change of status, extension, or readmission to the U.S. in H or L status until he/she has resided outside of the U.S. for a period of six months. 

Disclaimer: Nothing on these pages should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, please contact an IMMLAW attorney.


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