H-3 Visa (Trainees Coming for On-the-job Training)

H-3 visa is suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Foreign nationals to receive training which is not available in their country
  • Foreign nationals as special exchange visitors to receive training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities
  • Multinational companies to send their foreign employees to the U.S. for on-the-job training

An H-3 visa is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to trainees or special education exchange visitors, who intend to ultimately perform their job outside the United States. The H-3 Visa is specifically designed to enable workers in “any field of endeavor” to train in the U.S.(USCIS). Although this classification includes agriculture, technology, communications, and governmental leadership, it does not apply to people seeking graduate medical training. Trainees’ spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may come with them, but cannot work in the United States unless they have a valid work visa.

H-3 Visa Categories

The two categories which allow foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States are:

  • Trainee: An H-3 “trainee” must be invited by an individual or organization to receive training which is not available in their home country. It excludes graduate or medical education training, but including (but not limited to) Agriculture, Commerce, Communications, Finance, Government, and Transportation. Physicians are not employable, but medical students and nurses may use it in certain conditions.
  • Special Education Exchange Visitor: To participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. There is a cap of 50 visas per year out of which only one was approved in 2012. This remains valid for about 18 months.

Application Procedure

Firstly, in order to obtain H-3 classification, the U.S. employer (petitioner) or organization has to file a Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with a regional INS office. Once the approval notice is received, the alien beneficiary obtains with this approved petition an H-3 visa with a U.S. consulate abroad. Change of status (changing from another non-immigrant visa classification to H-3 without leaving the U.S. ) may also be available, but not in every case. Finally, when the beneficiary applies for entree into the U.S. with his/her issued visa stamp, and it is advisable to have the original approval notice.

Duration of Stay

There is two years of time limit for the initial issue of an H-3 visa. Normally, it is issued for the time of the traineeship. If the petition is affirmed, the trainee may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 2 years, he/she has to leave the U.S. for six months in order to receive a new H or L visa. If the trainee petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, the trainee may continue in the United States for up to 18 months.


Along with the requisite application documents, the H-3 Visa requires your employer to provide the following:

  • Proof that this training is not available in your home country, and that this training will aid you in your career.
  • Proof that you will not engage in willful employment while in the U.S.
  • Proof that the training is formal in nature.
  • Diplomas showing the fulfillment of any necessary education.
  • Documents that show close family members or property are being left behind in your home country.

NOTE: This is the process of obtaining a visa for a person who is outside the United States. A person who is inside the U.S. may be permitted to change from his/her current visa to an H-3 visa.

Family Status for H-3 Visa

Trainees’ spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may come with them to the United States as H-4 nonimmigrants. However, H-4 nonimmigrants are not permitted to work in the United States.

The petitioner must file an H-3 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with a training plan that addresses the above-mentioned requirements. An H-3 petition can be filed for multiple trainees provided, and they will be appealing to remain in the same training program.

Source of Information: www.uscis.gov