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USA Immigration Explained

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H-3 Trainee Visa

The H-3 trainee is a nonimmigrant who seeks to enter the United States at the invitation of an organization for the purpose of receiving training in any field of endeavor, including, but not limited to, commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation, agriculture, or the professions including information technology and engineering, with the exception of physicians.

The type of training programs that successfully lead to H-3 visas usually exist in one of two situations. Either a multinational company with branches in various countries wishes to train employees in its U.S. branches before sending them to work elsewhere; or, a U.S. company wishes to establish a beneficial business relationship with a foreign company. There are no limits on the number of people who can be granted H-3 visas each year.

Productive employment in the U.S. can be only a minor part of the total program. The purpose of the training should be to further a career in the person's home country. Similar training opportunities must not be available there.

The applicant must also possess the necessary background and experience to complete the U.S. training program successfully. Therefore, this should be the first time he or she will receive this particular type of training. And, as with many nonimmigrant visas, the applicant is eligible for an H-3 visa only if he or she intends to return to the home country when the visa expires.

The H-3 petition is filed with the USCIS on Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with an H supplement form. One petition may include multiple trainees if the trainees will be receiving the same training at the same place for the same period of time.

The H-3 visa issued by a U.S. Consulate following USCIS approval can be approved for the length of time needed for the worker to complete the training program, although no more than two years are normally permitted. Extensions of one year at a time may be allowed, but only if the person has not yet finished the original training, and only within the overall two-year maximum.

Visas (H-4) are available for an accompanying spouse and minor (under 21)  unmarried children. Spouses and children may not accept employment in the United States. Children are expected to attend school, and adults can attend any school or institution of higher education part-time.

After 2 years on H-3 status, a trainee may not apply for change to or readmission in H or L status until he or she has spent the immediate 6 months outside of the United States. However, if the training was seasonal or lasted for an aggregate of less than 6 months per year, the 6 month physical presence abroad requirement does not apply.* H-4 dependents are free to change to a different H-visa status because admission as an H-4 does not count against the maximum allowable period of admission for H status.

Each petition for a trainee must include a statement which:​

  • Describes the type of training and supervision to be given, and the structure of the training program;​
  • Sets forth the proportion of time that will be devoted to productive employment (hopefully employment will be incidental and comprise only a total portion of the training);​
  • 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 nonimmigrant;​
  • Indicates the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the trainee’s country and why it is necessary for the candidate 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 petitioner for providing the training.


After the H-3 Petition is approved by the USCIS, an H-3 Visa applicant should contact and arrange to file the Form DS-160, Application for Nonimmigrant Visa, with a nearby U.S. Consulate and carry to the consular interview:

  • Form I-797 Notice of Approval (USCIS approval notice);
  • Valid passport for the applicant and each dependent family member accompanying the applicant;
  • A passport regulation photo of the applicant and each dependent family member accompanying the applicant;
  • Birth certificate for the applicant and each dependent family member accompanying the applicant;
  • Marriage certificate showing relationship between applicant and spouse;
  • Documents evidencing address of applicant or close family members’ property and other ties to the home country;
  • Documents providing proof of employment on return to home country or other foreign destination; and
  • Other documents requested by the Consulate

In conclusion, the H-3 visa category is limited to allowing visa-holders to obtain temporary training in the United States to gain skills to use abroad and, conversely, is not designed to facilitate U.S. employment. Employers looking to fill vacancies or foreigners seeking work in the United States should look at work visa categories compatible with that purpose.

*See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(16)(ii)8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(13)(iv).

Please contact our law firm if you have questions.

[Note: Please consult with an attorney specializing in Immigration & Nationality law for professional advice in specific situations.]

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