Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor Visa


The H-3 Nonimmigrant Visa is a training visa that allows a foreign national to come temporarily to the United States to participate in a training program that resembles “classroom” type instruction, offered by an individual or organization. The training must be unavailable in the foreign national’s home country. There are no numerical limits on the number of people who can be granted H-3 visas as trainees each year.

The 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 foreign national pursuing a career outside the U.S.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) regulations recognize some specific types of trainees as potentially H-3 eligible, including certain medical interns or residents; licensed nurses who need a brief period of training that is unavailable in their native country; and special education exchange visitors. The requirements for the latter group are slightly different than for other trainees.

Note: Special Exchange Visitors may also apply for non-immigrant visas under the
H-3 category. A Special Exchange Visitor is one who seeks to enter the U.S. to gain practical training in educating children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. The foreign national must have a foreign residence that he/she has no intention of abandoning, and may stay in the U.S. for up to 18 months. Only 50 foreign nationals per year may enter into the U.S. in the Special Exchange Visitor category.

Qualification Criteria for an H-3 visa

An H-3 trainee must be invited by a person or organization for the purpose of  receiving training (except as a physician), in any fields such as purely industrial establishment, agriculture , commerce, communications , finance , government , transportation , or in other professions .

This classification is not intended for U.S. employment. It is designed to provide a foreign national with job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the U.S.

In order to obtain H-3 classification, a U.S. employer or organization must demonstrate that:

  • The proposed training is not available in the foreign national’s native country;
  • The foreign national will not be placed in a position which is in the normal operation of the business and in which U.S. citizens and resident workers are regularly employed;
  • The foreign national will not engage in productive employment unless such employment is incidental and necessary to the training; and
  • The training will benefit the beneficiary in pursuing a career outside the United States.

 Each H-3 petition for a trainee must include a statement that:

  • Describes the type of training and supervision to be given, and the structure of the training program;
  • Sets the proportion of time that will be devoted to productive employment;
  • 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 foreign national;
  • Indicates the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the foreign national’s country and why it is necessary for the foreign national 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 employer/organization for providing the training.

A training program may not be approved which:

  • Deals in generalities with no fixed schedule, objectives or means of evaluation;
  • Is incompatible with the nature of the petitioner’s business or enterprise;
  • Is on behalf of a foreign national who already possess substantial training and expertise in the proposed field of training;
  • Is in a field in which it is unlikely that the knowledge or skill will be used outside the United States;
  • Will result in productive employment beyond that which is incidental and necessary to the training;
  • Is designed to recruit and train foreign nationals for the ultimate staffing of domestic operations in the United States;
  • Does not establish that the petitioner has the physical plant and sufficiently trained manpower to provide the training specified; or
  • Is designed to extend the total allowable period of practical training previously authorized a nonimmigrant student.

Application Process

In order to obtain H-3 classification, the U.S. employer or organization must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The petition must be filed with the information provided above.

Family Members of H-3 Beneficiaries

An H-3 nonimmigrant’s spouse and unmarried minor children may accompany the H-3 non-immigrant to the United States as H-4 non-immigrants. H-4 dependents of H-3 non-immigrants are not permitted to work in the United States.

Period of Stay

If the petition is approved, the trainee may be allowed to remain in the United States for up to 2 years. If the trainee petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, the trainee may remain in the United States for up to 18 months.