What is the H-3 Visa?

The H-3 visa allows individuals to come to the United States temporarily for the purpose of receiving training as a “trainee” or to participate in the special education exchange visitor training program.

Who Qualifies for the H-3 Visa?

In order to receive an H-3 visa, an applicant must be coming to the United States temporarily as a trainee to an individual or organization, or as a special education exchange visitor.

What is a Trainee?

A trainee is someone who will receive training in any field of endeavor, excluding graduate medical education or training, and which is not available in the visa applicant’s home country. Some examples include hospital interns and nurses. Trainees are not employees and the H-3 visa is not intended for U.S. employment. The job-related training that a H-3 visa holder receives is intended to be for work that will be performed outside of the United States.

The type of training that a H-3 visa holder will receive must also fit certain criteria. The U.S. employer or organization hosting the trainee must demonstrate that these criteria are met:

  • The visa holder will not engage in productive employment unless such employment is incidental and necessary to the training;
  • The visa holder will not be placed in a position which is the normal operation of the business and in which U.S. citizens and resident workers are regularly employed;
  • The training will benefit the visa holder in pursuing a career outside of the United States; and
  • The training is not available in the visa holder’s native country.

In order to be a trainee, a visa applicant must be invited to come to the United States by an individual or an organization for the purpose of receiving training in any field. Some applicable fields include, but are not limited to:

  • Government
  • Finance
  • Communications
  • Commerce
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation

What is a Special Education Exchange Visitor?

A special education exchange visitor is someone who will participate in a U.S. special education training program that provides practical training, as well as experience, in educating children who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

In order to qualify as a special education exchange visitor, the H-3 visa applicant must:

  • Be close to completing a baccalaureate degree or higher in special education; or
  • Already has a baccalaureate degree or higher in special education; or
  • Has received extensive training and experience teaching children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

What is the Process to Obtain a H-3 Visa?

The process to apply for a H-3 visa is driven by the U.S. employer, individual, or organization that will be conducting the training that the trainee will participate in. The steps to apply for the H-3 visa are discussed below.

Employer Files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

The U.S. employer or organization that will be hosting the training must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.

When submitting the Form I-129, the U.S. employer or organization must demonstrate that the circumstances of the training offered and the visa applicant meet the criteria for a H-3 visa, and must provide a statement about the training that states:

  • A description of the career abroad for which the training will prepare the visa applicant;
  • The number of hours that will be spent in classroom instruction and on-the-job training;
  • The reasons why the visa applicant cannot receive such training in his or her country, and why training in the United States is necessary;
  • The type of training and supervision to be given, and the training program’s structure;
  • The proportion of time that the training program devotes to productive employment;
  • The source of any remuneration the trainee will receive and any benefit the employer will receive for providing the training.

Specific Requirements for Trainees

It is important that the U.S. employer or organization is detailed and specific in its statement and description of the training program. Generally, a H-3 visa will not be approved for training programs that:

  • Are designed to recruit and train noncitizens for the ultimate staffing of operations in the United States;
  • Do not establish that the petitioning employer or organization has the facilities or resources to provide the specified training;
  • Are designed to extend the total allowable period of practical training previously authorized to a nonimmigrant student;
  • Will result in productive employment other than that which is incidental and necessary to the training itself;
  • Are going to serve visa applicants who already have substantial expertise and training in the proposed field of training;
  • Are in a field of training that is unlikely to be utilized outside of the United States;
  • Are incompatible with the petitioning employer or organization’s business;
  • Deals in generalities with no objectives, means of evaluation, and no fixed schedule.

Specific Requirements for Special Education Exchange Visitors

H-3 visas for special education exchange visitors are subject to an annual numerical cap of 50 for each fiscal year.

The petition for a H-3 special education applicant must be filed by a facility with professionally trained staff and a structured program for providing education to children with disabilities as well as providing hands-on experience and training to H-3 special education visa holders. To demonstrate these attributes, the petition should describe:

  • The training the H-3 visa applicant will receive;
  • The H-3 applicant’s participation in the training program; and
  • The facility’s professional staff

Premium Processing Available

The process to obtain a H-3 visa may be expedited by election to use premium processing. In order to receive premium processing, the U.S. employer or organization must file Form I-907 and pay the premium processing fee.

Can H-3 Visa Holders Bring Family to the United States?

H-3 visa holders may have their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 accompany them to the United States under the H-4 visa. H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States and must receive separate work authorization, or obtain a work visa, in order to gain employment in the United States. H-4 visa holders may attend school, however.

For How Long is a H-3 Visa Valid?

A H-3 trainee may be approved to remain in the United States for up to two years, while H-3 special education exchange visitors may remain in the United States for up to 18 months.

H-3 trainees can only extend their stay if their original stay was under two years and the extension will not cause the trainees stay to exceed two years. H-3 special education exchange visitors may similarly extend their stay only if the total period does not exceed 18 months.

To extend their stay, H-3 visa holders must have their employer or organization file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and H Classification Supplement to Form I-129 with the same full documentation as required in the initial application filing. Along with the documentation, the employer or organization must also submit:

How Much Does the H-3 Visa Cost?

The cost to file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker is $460. The cost to file Form I-907 for premium processing is $2,500.