H3 VISA Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor

The H3 VISA nonimmigrant visa category is for an alien coming temporarily to the United States as either a:

  • Trainee to receive training, other than graduate or medical education training, that is not available in the alien’s home country

  • Special Education Exchange Visitor to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program for children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.


An H3 VISA “trainee” must be invited by an individual or organization for the purpose of receiving training, other than graduate or medical education training, in any field including but not limited to:

  • Commerce
  • Communications
  • Finance
  • Government
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture
  • Other professions

This classification is not intended for U.S. employment It is designed to provide an alien with job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the United States. In order to obtain H-3 classification , a U.S. employer or organization must provide:

  • A detailed description of the structured training program. The description should indicate the number of hours per week the trainee will be in classroom training and the number of hours per week that the trainee will be involved in on-the-job training
  • A summary of the trainee’s prior training and experience

  • An explanation of why the trainee needs the training

  • A statement explaining why the training is unavailable in the trainee’s home country

  • A statement explaining how the training will benefit the trainee in pursuing a career outside the United States

  • A statement explaining who will pay for the training without the petitioner permanently employing the trainee

Special Education Exchange Visitor

There is a numerical limit (or “cap”) on the number of H-3 special education exchange visitors. No more than 50 may be approved in a fiscal year. As of May 20, 2011, USCIS has approved three H-3 for special education exchange visitors in fiscal year 2011.

A petition requesting an H3 VISA “special education exchange visitor” must be filed by a U.S. employer or organization. It should include a description of:

  • The training the alien will receive

  • The staff and facilities where the training will occur

  • The trainee’s participation in the training

In addition, the U.S. employer or organization must show that the trainee is:

  • Nearing the completion of a baccalaureate degree program in special education

  • Has already earned a baccalaureate degree in a special education program

  • Has experience teaching children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

Note: Any custodial care of children must be incidental to the alien’s training.

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.

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.

Family of H3 Visa Holders

Trainees’ spouses and children who are under the age of 21 may accompany them to the United States. However, the family members will not be permitted to work in the United States.


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