H3 Visa — Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Frank Gogol

Imagine your company offers a great training program that will really help you advance your career. You take the training opportunity, right?

But what if the training happens in the U.S. and there is no similar training where you live. Is the situation hopeless?

No! You can still attend the training in the U.S. by applying for an H3 visa. 

An H3 visa is also known as the “training visa”. It allows you to enter the U.S. for a period of up to two years to receive training.

If you are interested in applying for an H3 visa, you can get some more details on the requirements and process below.

What Is an H3 Visa?

An H3 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. It allows you, as a foreign national, to enter the U.S. to receive training in a U.S. company. It is often known as the “training visa” and allows you to enter the U.S. for a period of up to two years to receive training.

The primary purpose of the H3 visa is to enable U.S. employers to bring foreign staff to the U.S. to receive essential training. The training has to be such that it is not available in the trainee’s home country. 

Training can be in a wide variety of areas, from agriculture to transportation, commerce to computing.

Special Exchange Visitors may also apply for nonimmigrant visas under the H3 category. You are a Special Exchange Visitor if you want to enter the U.S. to gain practical training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

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Who Is Eligible for an H3 Visa?

The following categories of people are eligible for an H3 visa

Trainee

An H3 “trainee” must be invited by an individual or organization to receive training.

You can apply as a trainee if you are working in any field except clinical medical practice. You need to prove you are not enrolled in a graduate medical program or similar training in the U.S.

You will need to justify why you are coming to the U.S. for this training. You can do this by showing you do not have the opportunity to receive similar training in your home country.

You’ll also need to prove this training is essential in that you need this training to advance your career outside the U.S.

The H3 visa is not a work visa.  It is designed to provide a noncitizen with job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the U.S. When you apply for an H3 visa, you will need to show you will not be employed in the U.S. unless it is necessary for the training.

Your petition must include a statement that describes the type of training and supervision you will receive. It should also include the proportion of time you will be devoting to productive employment – including the number of hours you will spend in classroom instruction and on on–the–job training respectively. The statement should also indicate the source of any remuneration you will receive.

Special Education Visitor

Special Exchange Visitors may also apply for nonimmigrant visas under the H3 category. 

A Special Exchange Visitor is someone who wants to enter the U.S. to gain practical training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. 

When applying for an H3 visa as a Special Exchange Visitor, you will need to prove you have a foreign residence that you have no intention of abandoning.

The Special Education Visa applies only to people who already have extensive prior training and experience teaching children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. You will need to prove you are currently completing, or have previously completed, a higher degree program in special education. 

Privileges and Limitations of the H3 Visa

An H3 visa gives you certain privileges in the U.S., but also comes with specific limitations. 

Privileges of an H3 visa

  • If the petition is approved for your training visa, you can stay in the U.S. for up to 2 years. 
  • If the petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, you can stay in the U.S. for up to 18 months.
  • Trainees’ spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may accompany them to the United States as H4 nonimmigrants. They will, however, not be allowed to work in the U.S. on an H4 visa
  • You can travel freely in and out of the U.S. while your visa is valid

Limitations of an H3 visa

  • Your training program must be provided by the U.S. company that petitioned for you.
  • If you are a doctor, you are ineligible for the H3 visa if you are going to receive any type of medical training or education.
  • If you remain in the U.S. for the maximum time allowed by the H3 visa, you cannot apply for a change of status until you have resided outside of the U.S. for six months.

Can an H3 Visa Be Extended

No, unfortunately you may not apply for your H3 visa to be extended. Once you’ve completed your maximum period of stay, you are supposed to leave the U.S. There are no extensions offered for H3 visa holders.

Changing Status On an H3 Visa

You can apply for a change of status on your H3 visa if you are hired for a job. Your employer can sponsor your change of status by filing the USCIS Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker status. You can submit this form to the Regional Service centre that has jurisdiction over your case.

This petition will lead to a change in status to an H1B or TN visa.

Make sure your employer also files for your spouse and children. They need to file Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status.

Conclusion

An H3 visa is known as the “training visa” and allows you to enter the U.S. for a period of up to two years to receive training.

You may be eligible for the H3 visa if you can show you do not have the opportunity to receive similar training in your home country, you need this training to advance your career outside the U.S., and you are entering the U.S. in search of training, not employment.

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