H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 Visa
The H-2 category allows U.S. employers to bring noncitizens into the U.S. on temporary agricultural (H-2A) and non-agricultural (H-2B) visas. The H-3 category allows for noncitizens coming temporarily to the United States to either receive training or to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program.
Eligibility for H-2A:
To qualify for H-2A nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must:
- Offer a job that is temporary or seasonal,
- Demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work,
- Show that prospective employees are nationals of an H-2A eligible country (see the H-2A temporary Agricultural Workers page for the list),
- Show that employing H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers and
- Submit a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. (A limited exception to this requirement exists in certain “emergent circumstances.” See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(x) for specific details.)
H-2A beneficiaries may stay in the United States for up to three years.
Please visit the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers page for more information.
Eligibility for H-2B:
To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that:
- There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work,
- The prospective employees are nationals of an H-2B eligible country (see the H-2B Temporary Non-agricultural Workers page for the list,
- Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers, and
- Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the job can be described as temporary. The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
- one-time occurrence – A petitioner claiming a one-time occurrence must show that it has not hired workers to perform the service or labor in the past, and will not need workers to perform the services or labor in the future, or that it has an employment situation that is otherwise permanent but a temporary event of short duration has created the need for a temporary worker.
- seasonal need – A petitioner claiming a seasonal need must show that the service or labor for which it seeks workers is: traditionally tied to a season of the year by an event or pattern and is of a recurring nature. Note: You cannot claim a seasonal need if the time period when you do NOT need the service or labor is:
- may change; or
- Considered a vacation period for your permanent employees.
- peakload need – A petitioner claiming a peakload need must show that it: regularly employs permanent workers to perform the services or labor at the place of employment, that it needs to temporarily increase staffing due to a seasonal or short-term demand, and that the temporary additions to staff will not become part of the employer’s regular operation.
- intermittent need – A petitioner claiming an intermittent need must show that it has not employed permanent or full-time workers to perform the services or labor and that it occasionally or intermittently needs temporary workers to perform services or labor for short periods.
H-2B petitioners must also provide a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) or, in the case where the workers will be employed on Guam, from the Guam Department of Labor (Guam DOL).
H-2B workers may stay in the United States for up to three years.
Please visit the H-2B Nonagricultural Works page for more information.
Eligibility for H-3:
The H-3 category allows noncitizens to come 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 noncitizen’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.
The H-3 classification is not intended for U.S. employment. Instead, it is designed to provide an noncitizen 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 include a statement that demonstrates:
- The proposed training is not available in the noncitizen’s native country,
- The noncitizen will not be placed in a position that is part of the normal operation of the business and in which U.S. citizens and resident workers are regularly employed,
- The noncitizen 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 noncitizen;
- Indicates the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the noncitizen’s country and why it is necessary for the noncitizen 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 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 noncitizen will receive;
- The facility’s professional staff; and
- The nature of the noncitizen’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.
H-3 beneficiaries may stay up to 2 years as a trainee or up to 18 months as a special education exchange visitor.
Please visit the H-3 Nonimmigrant Visa Training and Special Education Exchange Visitor for more information.
How to File
To begin the petition process, the employer must:
- Read the instructions for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
- Complete and sign Form I-129;
- Pay filing fee(s), if applicable; and,
- Provide all required evidence and supporting documentation.
After You File
Once we receive your Form I-129, we will process your application and you will receive:
- A receipt notice confirming we received your application
- A biometric service notice, if applicable
- A notice of decision.
- Note: After the visa petition is approved, you can apply for a H-2A, H-2B, or H-3 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. For more information on visa application processing and issuance fees, see the Department of State website.