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H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor

The H-3 nonimmigrant visa category allows foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States as either a:

  • Trainee to receive training in any field of endeavor, other than graduate medical education or training, that is not available in the foreign national’s home country.
  • Special Education Exchange Visitor to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

For more information, see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 2: Nonimmigrants, Part J, Trainees (H-3) [2 USCIS-PM J]

Trainees

An H-3 “trainee” must be invited by an individual or organization for the purpose of receiving training, in any field including but not limited to:  

  • Agriculture
  • Commerce 
  • Communications 
  • Finance 
  • Government 
  • Transportation 
  • Other professions

This classification is not intended for U.S. employment.  It is designed to provide a foreign national with job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the United States.

In order to obtain H-3 classification, a U.S. employer or organization must demonstrate that:

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

 Each H-3 petition for a trainee must include a statement that:

  • Describes the type of training and supervision to be given, and the structure of the training program;
  • Sets the proportion of time that will be devoted to productive employment;
  • Shows the number of hours that will be spent, respectively, in classroom instruction and in on –the-job training;
  • Describes the career abroad for which the training will prepare the foreign national;
  • Indicates the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the foreign national’s country and why it is necessary for the foreign national to be trained in the United States; and
  • Indicates the source of any remuneration received by the trainee and any benefit which will accrue to the employer/organization for providing the training.

A training program may not be approved which:

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

Special Education Exchange Visitor

There is a numerical limit (or “cap”) on the number of H-3 special education exchange visitors. No more than 50 may be approved in a fiscal year. 

A petition requesting an H-3 “special education exchange visitor” must be filed by a facility which has professionally trained staff and a structured program for providing education to children with disabilities, and for providing training and hands-on experience to participants in the special education exchange visitor program.   It should include a description of:

  • The training the foreign national will receive;
  • The facility’s professional staff; and
  • The foreign national’s participation in the training program.

In addition, the petition must show that the special education exchange visitor is:

  • Nearing the completion of a baccalaureate or higher degree program in special education; or
  • Has already earned a baccalaureate or higher degree in special education;  or
  • Has extensive prior training and experience teaching children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

Note: Any custodial care of children must be incidental to the foreign national’s training.

Application Process

In order to obtain H-3 classification, the U.S. employer or organization must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The petition must be filed with the information provided above.

Period of Stay

If the petition is approved, the trainee may be allowed to remain in the United States for up to 2 years. If the trainee petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, the trainee may remain in the United States for up to 18 months.

Family of H-3 Visa Holders

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

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/09/2014