H3 Visas – The Complete Guide

H3 Visas – The Complete Guide

If you are entering into the U.S. to acquire training, a normal visa, work visa, or travel visa won’t be valid. For such a purpose, you will need an H3 visa. So, what is an H3 visa and how do you acquire one? We will answer all the questions related to the H3 visa in this article.

What Is an H3 Visa?

The H3 visa, also sometimes colloquially called the “Trainee visa,” is a type of non-immigrant U.S. visa category. It is given to people looking to enter the U.S. for training purposes.

Visa Privileges

Individuals who get awarded an H3 visa can enter and stay in the U.S. for a period of two years from their date of entry. They’re allowed to make multiple entries without restriction or can stay continuously in the U.S. for the same time period. They also enjoy the luxury of bringing their family members with them. Spouses and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) are eligible to enter the country with the H3 visa holder, but they’d have to apply for the H4 visa.

Visa Limitations

Just like any other visa, the H3 has its own restrictions. Those limitations include:

  • The company petitioning the application for the candidate must be eligible to do so.
  • Physicians cannot be entertained as trainees for medical training specifically.
  • The visa holder cannot remain in the U.S. after completion of 2 years and cannot apply for extension, readmission, or change of status.
  • Spouses and children coming to the U.S. under an H4 visa are not eligible to work during their stay.

Who Is Eligible for an H3 Visa?

There are two categories of people who can apply for this particular visa: trainees and special education exchange visitors.


Trainees are people sponsored by their companies to undergo training in the U.S. and acquire any desired skill sets for the jobs. However, the company needs to demonstrate the following before an applicant is deemed eligible:

  • The training program must not be available in the applicant’s country of residence.
  • The applicant won’t be placed in any post within the company which is classified as a regular position typically meant for American workers.
  • The foreign national won’t get involved in the productive or revenue-generating side of business until and unless it is absolutely necessary to the training’s completion.
  • The training itself will improve the skill set of the visa holder and help them in their professional life outside of the U.S.
  • There are proper tools, environments, and people available at the site which can provide the required training.

However, the applicant may get denied if the training program is:

  • Generic with no schedules, objectives, and evaluation methods.
  • Irrelevant and doesn’t fit into the nature of the petitioner’s business.
  • Designed for recruitment and handling everyday operations.
  • In such a field which has no use outside of the U.S.
  • On the same level as the applicant’s expertise and he/she already possesses those skills or has relevant experience.

Special Education Exchange Visitors

Special education exchange visitors are those who seek to gain practical experience in educating children who are suffering from any sort of disabilities, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical. This training should be sponsored by a facility which has professionally trained staff and a program under which children with disabilities are handled. There’s a cap to the special education exchange visitor’s visa which means no more than 50 may be approved in a fiscal year. As opposed to 2 years for trainees, education exchange visitors can stay in the U.S. for a period of only 18 months.

H3 Visa Requirements

Any individual seeking an H3 visa should meet certain criteria. The requirements are mainly meant for employers who are bringing in foreign trainees. They must submit a statement detailing:

  • A detailed explanation as to why the training cannot be conducted in the applicant’s native country.
  • The type of training and supervision that will be provided.
  • The total number of hours which will be spent specifically for training and receiving on-the-job training.
  • The outcome of the training—where the acquired skill set will be utilized.
  • The amount and source of remuneration the applicant will be receiving for attending the training.
  • Any time period for which the applicant will be engaged in productive employment if any.

For Special education exchange visitors, only those candidates are considered who are in their final year of studies and will be completing a bachelor’s degree or any higher education degree relevant to the training program. The applicant should also have prior experience in teaching children with disabilities.

The facility sponsoring the applicant should demonstrate:

  • The type of training the foreign national will be receiving.
  • The staff members, their qualifications, and expertise at handling such training programs.
  • The role the foreign applicant will be playing in the program.

They’ll be deemed eligible based on the above parameters.

How to Apply for an H3 Visa

Unlike other American visas, the H3 visa cannot be applied for directly by the candidate. It can only be initiated by the sponsoring organization. The organization would have to first evaluate its own requirement criteria and file a petition to the USCIS with all the information about the training program, beneficiary, and post-completion scenario.

H3 Visa Processing Time

The processing time for an H3 visa usually depends on the USCIS, which it states takes somewhere between two to four months (out of which four to six weeks are spent on processing the H3 petition).

Visa Extension

Beyond the 2-year stipulated time frame, there are no extensions offered for the H3 visa.

H3 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

When applying for an H3 visa, is legal assistance mandatory?

Not mandatory, but definitely recommended. The process has become stringent and since there are so many criteria to meet, handling it by yourself can get overwhelming which can result in errors, rejections, and delays.

Can I change my status while on an H3 visa?

Change of status is possible only if you get hired for a job. The employer has to separately file Form I-129 which is the petition for nonimmigrant worker status.

Are there any travel restrictions on an H3 visa?

There are no restrictions on travel. There’s also no restriction on time spent outside of the country during the 2-year period.

Can I study or work on an H3 visa?

It’s possible to take courses only if you’re opting to take classes that support the training program. However, full-time courses are not permitted.

Can I bring my dependents to the U.S. on an H3 visa?

For bringing in family members, a separate visa, called an H4 visa, needs to be filed.

Can my dependents work in the U.S. on an H4 visa?

Unfortunately, nobody can be employed in the U.S. on an H4 visa.

Can my dependents study on H-4 visa?

Yes, they can, and do not need the F1 student visa application. But again, full-time programs might not be accepted.

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The Wrap Up

An H3 visa might help you get a wider perspective of the world and expand your skill sets, which will lead you towards better work opportunities. We hope this guide has helped you in understanding the basics of the H3 visa.

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