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H-3 Trainee


The H-3 visa category applies to foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States for training with a U.S. organization (usually a business) where such training is not offered in the foreign national's home country. H-3 trainees are may work only for the organization that provides the training, and any productive employment must be incidental to the larger training objective.  Physicians are ineligible for H-3 approval.  "Special Exchange Visitors" may also apply for nonimmigrant visas under the H-3 category.  A Special Exchange Visitor is one who seeks to enter the U.S. to gain practical training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. 

H-3 Trainee Requirements

To sponsor an H-3 Trainee, a sponsoring organization or company must show that: 

  1. The proposed training is not available in the trainee's own country;
  2. The trainee will not be placed in a role in the normal operation of the business and in which U.S. citizens and resident workers are regularly employed;
  3. The trainee will not engage in productive employment unless such productive employment is incidental and necessary to the training; and
  4. The training will benefit the trainee in pursuing a career outside the United States.
H-3 Trainee Program Description

 The sponsoring company must provide a detailed program description that:

  1. Describes the type of training and supervision to be given, and the structure of the training program;
  2. Indicates the proportion of time that will be devoted to productive employment;
  3. Explains the number of hours that will be spent, respectively, in classroom instruction and in on-the-job training;
  4. Describes the career abroad for which the training will prepare the trainee;
  5. Indicates the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the trainee's country and why it is necessary for the trainee to be trained in the United States; and
  6. Indicates the source of any remuneration received by the trainee and any benefit which will accrue to the petitioner for providing the training. 
H-3 Trainee Program Restrictions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency that decides H-3 trainee requests,  will not approve an H-3 trainee petition that:

  1. Deals in generalities with no fixed schedule, objectives, or means of evaluation;
  2. Is incompatible with the nature of the petitioning company's business or enterprise
  3. Is on behalf of a trainee who already possesses substantial training and expertise in the proposed field of training;
  4. Is in a field in which it is unlikely that the knowledge or skill will be used outside the United States;
  5. Will result in productive employment beyond that which is incidental and necessary to the training;
  6.  Is designed to recruit and train foreign nationals for the ultimate staffing of domestic operations in the United States;
  7. Does not establish that the petitioner has the physical plant and sufficiently trained manpower to provide the training specified; or
  8. Is designed to extend the total allowable period of practical training previously authorized a nonimmigrant student. 

A U.S. company must submit a petition with supporting documentation to USCIS.  Supporting documentation should include a detailed description of the program, a summary of the prior training and experience of the foreign national, and an explanation as to how the program requirements are met. 

If the petition is GRANTED and the foreign national is abroad, the USCIS will notify the designated U.S. consulate of the petition's approval.  The foreign national may then apply for an H-3 visa at that U.S. consulate abroad before traveling to the United States.

If the foreign national is already lawfully in the United States when the employer files its petition, the petition may ask USCIS to change the foreign national's nonimmigrant status to H-3.

If the petition is DENIED, the employer may appeal the denial to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office in Washington, DC.  There is no appeal from a USCIS refusal to grant the foreign national a change of nonimmigrant status to H-3, nor is there any formal appeal from a U.S. consular official's refusal to issue an H-3 visa.

Filing Fees

The basic H-3 petition filing fee, payable by all employers to the USCIS, is currently $325. 

Time Limit

An H-3 petition may be approved for a maximum period of up to two years, but 18 months is the norm.

Spouses and Children

Spouses and children are accorded "H-4" classification.  They may accompany or later follow to join the principal H-3 trainee, but they may not work in the United States, though attending school is permitted.  They may remain in the United States for the same length of time as the principal H-3 trainee.


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