H-3 Trainee Visa (more info)

H-3 Temporary Trainee Visas are for foreign nationals who wish to come to the U.S. for on-the-job training provided by a company in the United States. H-3 Temporary Trainee Visa holders are allowed to work only for the company that is providing the training and employment should only play a minor role in the program. The main objective should be the training, not actual work.There is currently no annual cap on H-3 admissions to the U.S. Also included in this category is the Special Education Exchange Program.

Eligibility Requirements and Restrictions

The following programs qualify for H-3 Temporary Trainee Visas: agriculture, technology, finance, communications, government, and almost any other fields, except for medical training programs. H-3 status is not appropriate for graduate education, including medical training, except under special circumstances.

The petitioning employer or sponsor must demonstrate that the:

  • Proposed training is not available in the H-3 Trainee’s home country;
  • H-3 Trainee will not be placed in a position which is in the normal operation of the business and in which U.S. citizens and resident alien workers are regularly employed;
  • H-3 Trainee will not be productively employed except as incidental to training;
  • Training will benefit the H-3 Trainee in pursuing a career outside the U.S.; and
  • H-3 Trainee has a foreign residence to which he/she must return.

Training Program

The petition should be filed by the U.S. employer along with a training program which includes the following:

  • Detailed description of the training and the supervision to be given
  • Proportion of time that will be devoted to productive employment
  • Number of classroom hours per week and the number of hours of on-the-job training per week;
  • Explanation of the position and duties for which the training will prepare the H-3 Trainee (i.e., IBM develops new software that is unknown in another county, but which they will market there; IBM can petition to train people to use that software so that they can use it when the software is sold in their home country.);
  • An explanation of why the training is required and why the trainee cannot obtain the training in his/her country of residence;
  • An explanation of how the training will benefit the trainee in pursuing a career abroad;
  • An explanation of the benefits the employer will derive from the training and why the employer will incur the cost of providing the training without significant productive labor from the trainee(s); and
  • Source of remuneration received by the trainee.

Application Procedures

The H-3 Petition is filed by the U.S. Employer using Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker and H Supplement. The forms should be accompanied by a letter from the Petitioner, training program, summary and/or evidence of the trainee’s credentials, and the appropriate filing fee. The H-3 Petition is filed with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center.

Petitioner’s may file for multiple beneficiaries if the dates of training and duties/training are the same and the individuals will be applying for their visas at the same consulate or, if they do not need visas, they will enter at the same port of entry.

After the USCIS approves the petition, the H-3 Trainee must apply at the U.S. Consulate for the visa. Consulates set their own interview policies and procedures regarding nonimmigrant visas. Be sure to check the consulate’s website for their specific instructions. They will also list the visa application fees and current forms to submit.

Entry into the U.S.

Please be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has authority to deny admission at the port of entry to any applicant who is inadmissible under INA, even if the applicant has a visa. Also, the CBP, not the consular officer, determines the period for which the bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, CBP officials issue Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted.

Admission and Extension

The maximum period of admission in H-3 status is two years. Typically, the H-3 Trainee will be admitted for the length of the training program. If the visa is approved or admission is for a shorter period, the H-3 visa may be extended in increments of up to one year, but no longer than 2 years.

An H-3 Trainee who has remained in the U.S. for the maximum two years is not eligible for an extension, change of status or readmission to H or L status unless the Trainee resided and is physically outside the U.S. for the immediate prior 6 months. However, this rule does not apply if training is seasonal, intermittent, or less than 6 months.

If the training undergoes a substantial change from that which is authorized, a new petition must be filed. Otherwise, if the H-3 Trainee continues to participate in the training program, he/she is deemed to have violated his/her nonimmigrant status and is therefore, deportable.

Spouses and Dependents

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of H-3 visa holders are eligible for H-4 visas. Dependents may remain in the United States, travel in and out of the country, but are not allowed to work on H-4 visa status.

H-3 Special Education Exchange Program

Since 1990, there has been an exception from the requirements of H-3 training programs for participants in special education programs which provide practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. The only requirements are that the petition be filed by a facility with a professionally trained staff and “a structured program for providing education to children with disabilities, and for providing hands-on experience to participants in the special education exchange visitor program.” The beneficiary must be nearing completion of a Bachelor’s or higher degree or have extensive prior training or experience caring for disabled children. There is an annual limit of 50 such visas available annually and the maximum period of admission is 18 months. A beneficiary in this category who has remained in the U.S. for the maximum period of 18 months may not seek a change or extension of status or readmission under H or L categories unless he or she has resided and is physically present outside the U.S. for the immediate prior 6 months.