H-3 Visas

H-3 Non-immigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor

The H-3 classification applies to trainees who wish to receive training in the United States that is unavailable in the foreign national’s home country. It also applies to special education exchange visitors who plan to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program in the United States for the purposes of gaining experience educating children with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Medical education and training do not apply to this classification. H-3 visas for special education exchange visitors are subject to a statutory numerical cap limitation of a maximum of 50 visas issued per fiscal year. Although the H-3 visa training program is specifically oriented toward employment, the program is designed to equip the trainee with the necessary skills and experience in order for the trainee to undertake employment outside of the United States. The H-3 visa anticipates that the trainee will not be entering the USA for the purpose of engaging in productive employment even though some degree of productive employment may be permissible so long as it is incidental to the training and is otherwise inconsequential in nature.

In order to be eligible the H-3 trainee must be invited by an American organization or individual to receive training in such fields as agriculture, commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation, special education, or other fields with the exception of medical education or training. An individual cannot self-petition for an H-3 petition, an organization or individual within the United States must submit it on their behalf.

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Applying for the H-3 Visa

In order to petition an H-3 worker the U.S. organization or individual is required to demonstrate that:

  • The trainee will not receive graduate medical education or training in the U.S.
  • The proposed training is not available in the foreign national’s own country;
  • The trainee will not engage in productive employment unless such employment is incidental and necessary to the training;
  • The trainee will not be placed in a position in the normal operation of the business in which citizens and resident workers are regularly employed; and
  • The training will benefit the trainee in pursuing a career outside the U.S.
Supporting Documents

The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the H-3 visa petition. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case. The list includes but is not limited to the following items:

  • Form I-129, along with the H supplement;
  • A description of the training program, staff, facilities, number of classroom hours per week, the number of hours of on-the-job training per week, and supervision given;
  • Details of the trainee’s participation in the program and structure of the training;
  • Reasons why the trainee needs the training including the reasons why the training cannot be obtained in the trainee’s foreign county and reason why the training in the USA is necessary;
  • Details of compensation to the trainee including benefits, if any;
  • Evidence that the program provides special education to children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, and that any custodial care of the children is only incidental to the training program;
  • Description of the career abroad that the trainee will eventually undertake;
Special Education Exchange Visitors

H-3 petitions can only be filed on behalf of special education exchange visitors by facilities that employ trained staff and possess a structured curriculum to provide special education to children with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities. The facility must also provide hands-on training for participating trainees. The individual or organization should be prepared to demonstrate the training that will be provided, provide a description of professional personnel on site, the extent of the trainee’s participation in the program, that the beneficiary is have earned a baccalaureate degree or higher in special education or is completing a baccalaureate degree or higher in a field that is directly related to special education, or has sufficient training and experience educating children with disabilities.


The family members of the H-3 alien are classified in the H-4 category. Dependents may not be employed under the H-4 classification. To work in the United States the dependents of a principal foreign worker will need to change their status to a non-immigrant category for which employment is authorized.

Duration of Stay

The H-3 visa is valid for a period of up to 2 years of regular training and up to 18 months for special education exchange visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions about H-3 Visa
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