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You may be eligible for H-3 visas if you wish to travel temporarily to the United States for training as an apprentice or as a special educational exchange visitor.

These types of American visas is useful for aliens who have been invited to participate in training programs in the US. This non-immigrant visa allows professionals in various fields to stay and study in the US on a temporary basis.

Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers will be able to provide you with legal support today with this process. Call our law firm today and we will gladly advise you in professional consultation on any type of doubt you have about the H-3 visas or any other immigration matter.


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What are H-3 visas?

The H-3 visa is a type of visa issued to alien trainees or special education exchange visitors. This visa grants the right to enter the US territory to attend a training institution that has previously admitted you. 

H-3 visa applicants participate in educational programs of a vocational nature, as well as nonacademic courses and skill-building programs. 

It is considered as:

  • Apprentice. Any alien who wishes to receive training in any labor field other than medical education, or training that is not available in the country of origin.
  • Special education exchange visitor. Anyone who participates in an educational exchange program that provides training and educational experience for children with physical, emotional or mental disabilities. 

For more information, visit USCIS Policy Manual Volume 2: Nonimmigrants, Part J, Trainees (H-3).

Benefits of the H-3 visas

H3 visa benefits

Among the greatest benefits offered by the H-3 visa to its holders we find the following:

  • Participate in a training program offered by a US company and legally work for it on a temporary basis;
  • You will get the visa sooner since visas are issued faster for this category;
  • It allows its holders to travel freely inside and outside the United States while the visa is valid;
  • It offers the possibility of jointly processing an H-4 visa for accompanying family members.

Who qualifies for the H-3 visas?

There are two types of programs that qualify under the H-3 visa:

  1. Training program. It can be a program in any field of study except the medical professions and their training. An example of these fields are:
    1. Governmental;
    2. Transport;
    3. Business;
    4. Finance;
    5. Agriculture;
    6. Communications;
    7. Other areas.
  2. Special education. The applicant must enroll in a practical or theoretical program to improve her knowledge of children with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

It is not possible for the H-3 visa holder to work in the US or obtain an employment contract for formal employment in the country. To obtain more long-term employment, the alien will need another type of visa, such as: 

Family members of the H-3 visa holder

The H-3 visa holder’s spouse and children under the age of 21 may accompany them to the United States. However, they will not be able to work in the United States. 

Requirements to apply for H-3 visas

The US employer or sponsor must demonstrate the following:

For trainees

  • Training is not available in the alien’s home country;
  • The training will favor the alien beneficiary in regards to their professional career outside the United States;
  • The alien will not be employed in practical experience unless the employment is incidental and necessary for training;
  • They will not be placed in a job that is part of a normal business or operation in which U.S. citizens and resident workers are employed. 
H-3 visa for professionals

Each petition for an H-3 trainee must have a statement that will:

  • Establish the proportions of time that will be devoted to practical experience;
  • Describe the type of training and supervision that will be provided, along with the structure of the training program;
  • Indicate the source of the trainee’s compensation and any benefits the US employer or sponsor will receive in return for providing the training;
  • State the reasons why the training cannot be obtained in the alien’s home country and why it is necessary to do it in the United States;
  • Show the number of hours that will be devoted to training.

The training program will not be approved if:

  • The alien already already has training and experience in the field;
  • There is no proof that there is physical space and sufficient trained workforce to provide the training;
  • Aliens are recruited and trained for employment in operations within the US.
  • The total period of authorized practical experience for a nonimmigrant student is extended;
  • No fixed work schedule, objectives or evaluation methods are provided;
  • It is a field where the knowledge gained is unlikely to be used outside the US.
  • The result of the training moves away from what is considered incidental and necessary for the training. 

For special education exchange visitors

The application must be submitted by a center that has professionally trained staff and a structured program that provides education to children with disabilities. In addition, the employer must include:

  • A description of the training the alien will obtain;
  • Installation details and professional staff;
  • The manner of participation of the alien in the training program;
  • Evidence that the alien is close to completing a bachelor’s degree program in special education or already has one;
  • Evidence that the alien has the experience to teach children with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities. 

Note: Any custody, companionship or care of any child must be related to the training completed.

How to apply for the H-3 visa?

To obtain H-3 visas, it is necessary for an employer or organization in the United States to file with USCIS Form 129, petition for a nonimmigrant worker on behalf of the alien beneficiary, accompanied by the information indicated above. 

Subsequently, the alien beneficiary must follow these steps:

  1. Complete Form DS-160;
  2. Submit a photograph that meets the photo requirements;
  3. Pay the application fee;
  4. Schedule an interview appointment with the US embassy or consulate;
  5. Go to the interview.

Documents needed for the H-3 visa interview

The alien beneficiary must bring the following documents to the interview with the US embassy or consulate:

  • DS-160 form confirmation printout;
  • Valid passport;
  • Birth certificate;
  • A document that demonstrates your intention to return to your nationality, either with a property deed, a lease or a future employment contract.

If your H-3 visa application is successful, you will receive a visa stamp to attend the program to which you have been admitted.

How long can I stay in the US on an H-3 visa?

The length of time you can stay in the United States on an H-3 visa is up to 2 years maximum. However, for special education training programs, the visitor can stay in the country for up to 18 months.

documents to apply for an h-3 visa in the usa

Can I extend my stay with an H-3 visa?

An extension of stay cannot be requested under the H-3 category. Once the period of stay ends, the visa holder must leave the US.

How long does it take to obtain the H-3 visa?

Processing times vary, but the institution must make the request on behalf of the foreigner at least 6 months before the training program begins.

Generally, USCIS takes approximately 4-6 months to process the petition. On the other hand, the US embassy or consulate may take 1 to 3 months to communicate with the foreigner about the final decision on the H-3 visa.

If you want to expedite the process, you can do so through the Form I-907, application for premium processing. 

Why was I denied the H-3 visa?

There is a maximum limit of 50 H-3 visas per fiscal year, so this is an issue to be aware of. Knowing this, the reasons why the H-3 visa can be denied are:

  • The limitation has been met and no more H-3 visas can be issued during that year;
  • The training program is general and not structured;
  • As far as the US sponsor is concerned, they did not apply on time;
  • The alien beneficiary will work in the United States or have completed similar training.

What restrictions apply to H-3 visas?

The applicant for an H-3 visa must take into account the restrictions mentioned below:

  • The beneficiary can only work for the employer who applied for the H-3 visa. If the alien worker wants to change training programs, then they must apply for another H-3 visa;
  • The validity of the H-3 visa is for the duration of the training program;
  • If the employer requests a work certificate in the name of the alien worker or any other migratory resource to favor them, the visa extension request will be rejected. However, you can consult with an experienced immigration attorney to find another alternative;
  • When the H-3 visa expires after 2 years, the beneficiary must return to their home country.
L-1 visas

If you want to apply for an H-3 visa again or an L-1 visa, you must wait a minimum period of 6 months outside the US. Unless the person may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status because they married or were petitioned for a relative.

How much does the H-3 visa cost?

The total cost of the H-3 visas includes USCIS filing fees of $460. If you want to speed up the process, the premium processing fee will be $2,500.

Can an H-3 visa holder obtain a Green Card?

It is not possible to obtain the Green Card through the H-3 visa since it is not a double intention visa. Once the authorized period of stay ends, you will need to leave the US.

You can visit our blog on the Green Card to learn about your options to become a lawful permanent resident. 

If you need help in any type of immigration case in the United States, you can call us and we will gladly help you. The immigration attorneys at Lluis Law have more than 50 years of combined experience helping Latino immigrants and immigrants from other ethnicities and communities. 

English and Spanish are spoken at our firm in Los Angeles, California, so you will feel right at home. Call us to schedule your professional consultation today. 


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