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Chapter 2 - H-3 Categories

A. Trainees[1]

H-3 trainees are aliens who have been invited to participate in a training program in the United States by a person, a business, or an organization. The training must be unavailable in the alien’s home country. There are no numerical limits on the number of people who can be granted H-3 visas as trainees each year. 

An H-3 trainee cannot engage in productive employment in the United States unless such work is incidental and necessary to the training and must not be placed in a position which is in the petitioning entity’s normal operation and in which citizens and resident workers are regularly employed. Finally, the training must benefit the alien pursuing a career outside the United States.

An H-3 trainee must be invited by a person or organization for the purpose of receiving training (except as a physician), in any field including:

  • A purely industrial establishment​

  • Agriculture​

  • Commerce ​

  • Communications​

  • Finance​

  • Government​

  • Transportation​

  • Other professions[2]

1. Externs[3]

A hospital approved by the American Medical Association (AMA) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) for either an internship or residency program may petition to classify a medical student attending a medical school abroad as an H-3 trainee if the student’s training will be done as an extern during his or her medical school vacation. The hospital must also satisfy the H-3 trainee petition requirements. 

2. Nurses[4] 

A petitioner may seek H-3 classification for a nurse if:

  • The nurse-beneficiary does not have H-1 status; ​

  • Such training is designed to benefit both the nurse-beneficiary and the overseas employer upon the nurse’s return to his or her country of origin; and​

  • The petitioner establishes that there is a genuine need for the nurse-beneficiary to receive a brief period of training that is unavailable in his or her native country. 

Additionally, the petitioner must:[5] 

  • Satisfy the H-3 trainee requirements;

  • Establish that the nurse-beneficiary has a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the country where the beneficiary obtained a nursing education[6] or that such education was obtained in the United States or Canada;[7] and

  • Include a statement certifying that the nurse-beneficiary is fully qualified under the laws governing the place where the training will be received and that under those laws the petitioner is authorized to give the beneficiary the desired training.[8]

B. Special Education Exchange Visitors[9]

H-3 special education exchange visitors are participants in a structured special education program that provides practical training and experience in the education of physically, mentally, or emotionally disabled children. This category is limited to an 18-month period of stay and to 50 visas per fiscal year. [10] 


1. [^] The H-3 nonimmigrant classification is defined in INA 101(a)(15)(H)(iii) as, “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 a trainee, other than to receive graduate medical education or training, in a training program that is not designated primarily to provide productive employment … ” The regulations impose additional requirements on the extern and nurse subcategories that do not apply to the general trainee category. See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i).

2. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7).

3. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i)(A).

4. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i)(B).

5. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i)(B)(1).

6. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i)(B)(1).

7. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i)(B)(1).

8. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(i)(B)(2).

9. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(iv).

10. [^] See Section 223 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT 90), Pub. L. 101-649 (PDF), 104 Stat. 4978, 5028 (November 29, 1990). See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(7)(iv) and 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(D). See 55 FR 2606, 2628 (PDF) (Jan. 26, 1990).


Legal Authorities

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)

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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