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Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

The H-3 nonimmigrant visa category allows aliens to come temporarily to the United States as either a:

  • Trainee who seeks to enter the United States at the invitation of an organization or person to receive training in any field of endeavor, other than graduate medical education or training;[1]or​

  • Special Education Exchange Visitor who seeks to participate in a structured special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.[2]

The H-3 nonimmigrant classification is not intended for productive employment. Rather, the H-3 program is designed to provide an alien with job-related training that is not available in his or her country for work that will ultimately be performed outside the United States.

B. Background

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 contained the precursor to today’s H-3 nonimmigrant classification: “an alien having a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning . . . who is coming temporarily to the United States as an industrial trainee[.]”[3] 

In 1970, Congress expanded the class of aliens eligible for nonimmigrant classification by deleting the word “industrial” as a modifier of “trainee” in the statute.[4] However, Congress narrowed the H-3 classification in 1976 by inserting the following language into the statute: “other than to receive graduate medical education or training[.]”[5] 

Finally, the Immigration Act of 1990[6] both limited and expanded the H-3 classification. Congress limited the H-3 nonimmigrant classification by adding the following language to the statute: “in a training program that is not designed primarily to provide productive employment[.]”[7] However, Congress indirectly expanded the classification by creating the Special Education Exchange Visitor Program,[8] which the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service placed within the H-3 category.[9] Congress has not amended the statute since 1990.[10] 

C. Legal Authorities


[^ 1] See INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iii). See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i).

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(iv).

[^ 3] See Section 101(a)(15)(H)(iii) of the INA, Pub. L. 82-414, 66 Stat. 163, 168 (June 27, 1952).

[^ 4] See INA of April 7, 1970, Pub. L. 91-225, 84 Stat. 116, amending INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iii).

[^ 5] See Section 601(b)(3) of the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act of 1976, Pub. L. 94-484 (PDF), 90 Stat. 2243, 2301 (October 12, 1976).

[^ 6] See Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT 90), Pub. L. 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978 (November 29, 1990).

[^ 7] See IMMACT 90, Pub. L. 101-649, 104 Stat. 5022 (November 29, 1990). 

[^ 8] See IMMACT 90, Pub. L. 101-649, 104 Stat. 5028 (November 29, 1990).

[^ 9] See 56 FR 31553, 31554 (PDF) (Jul. 11, 1991) (proposed rule). See 56 FR 61111, 61119-61120 (PDF) (Dec. 2, 1991) (final rule). 

[^ 10] See INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iii).


Legal Authorities

8 CFR 214.2(h)(1)(ii)(E) - H-3 definition

8 CFR 214.2(h)(10) - Denial of petitions

8 CFR 214.2(h)(11) - Revocation of an approved H petition

8 CFR 214.2(h)(12) - Appeal of a denial or a revocation of a petition

8 CFR 214.2(h)(13) - Admission of H beneficiaries

8 CFR 214.2(h)(14) - Extension of H visa petition validity

8 CFR 214.2(h)(15)(ii)(D) - Extension of H-3 stay 

8 CFR 214.2(h)(16)(ii) - Effect of approval of a permanent labor certification or filing of a preference petition on H classification

8 CFR 214.2(h)(17) - Effect of a strike

8 CFR 214.2(h)(7) - H-3 regulations

8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(i)(D) - H-3 numerical limitations on special education exchange visitors

8 CFR 214.2(h)(9)(iii)(C) - Validity of approved H-3 petitions and H-4 dependent(s)

8 CFR 214.2(h)(9)(iv) - Validity of approved H-3 petitions and H-4 spouse and dependent(s)

INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iii) - Definition of H-3

INA 214(c) - Admission of nonimmigrants


No forms available at this time.


No appendices available at this time.


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