H-3 Visa - Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor

The H-3 Nonimmigrant trainee visa is designed for aliens to receive training other than graduate or medical education training (physicians are not allowed to enter the U.S. on an H-3 visa). The visa allows foreigners to come to the United States for training purposes only; the foreigner is expected to return to their home country to perform their job with the skills learned in the United States. Training for H-3 visas can include training in the following fields: agriculture, commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation, and other professions.

H-3 Trainee Visa Application Process

The U.S. employer or organization must provide the following information:

  • The U.S. employer must provide documentation about the specific training program. The training program description should include the number of hours per week that the trainee will be involved in training and the number of weeks that the trainee will be learning in a classroom setting.
  • The employer must also provide an explanation on why the trainee requires the training program
  • A summary of the trainee’s past experience and training
  • An explanation on why the training program is unavailable in the trainees country of permanent residence
  • Statements on who will pay for the training
  • An explanation of how the training program will benefit the trainee in their country of permanent residence
  • All the above information must be submitted along with Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker

After the Form I-129 is approved, you or your attorney of record must submit:

  • Form I-797 Notice of Action
  • A complete copy your passport and your spouse and minor childrens’ passports  
  • A 2x2 color photo of you and your spouse and children under 21 years of age
  • A copy of your birth certificate and the birth certificates of your spouse and children under 21 years of age
  • A copy of your marriage certificate, confirming that you are legally married to your spouse
  • Documentation verifying that you have close relatives, property, and other possessions in your country of permanent residence. This information is crucial in proving that you only intend to temporarily reside in the United States. Any other ties to your country of permanent residence, such as a job waiting for you, will increase your chances of obtaining the H-3 visa

H-3 Nonimmigrant Special Education Exchange Visitor Visa

Only 50 H-3 visas for special education exchange visitors may be approved per year. In 2011, only 3 H-3 visas were approved for special education exchange visitors. The visa processes is complex and ample evidence must be provided in order to be considered for the visa.

The U.S. organization or employer must provide documentation on what specific training the alien will receive, the training requirements of the alien, and the documentation on where and when the training will occur and information on the staff of the facility.


The special education exchange visitor must show that they are in the process of completing their baccalaureate degree program in the area of special education, they have already received their baccalaureate degree in special education, or that they have a substantial amount of experience teaching children that with emotional, mental, or physical disabilities. 

Application Process

The U.S. employer or organization must file Form I-129 Peition for nonimmigrant worker. The application must contain all of the above stated information. The potential special education exchange visitor should show that they have a substantial amount of experience in teaching the mentally, emotionally, or physically disabled. In addition, they should also show that the services they would provide are not available in the United States.  

H-3 Visa Period of Stay & Extensions

An H-3 trainee visa can remain valid for up to 2 years, whereas an H-3 visa for a special education exchange visitor can remain valid for up to 18 months.  

There are no extensions while on an H-3 visa. In addition, if the H-3 visa holder remains in the United States for the maximum period of time allowed, they will be unable to change their status until they have been outside the United States for at least 6 months. 

H-3 Visa Change of Status

If the H-3 visa holder has not stayed in the U.S. for the maximum time allowed on an H-3 visa, they are allowed to change to another nonimmigrant status, if their new prospective employer files Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, at their local USCIS office. 

Travel Restrictions

There are no travel restrictions on the H-3 visa. H-3 visa holders are allowed to enter and leave the U.S. as often as they wish. 

Dependents of H-3 Visa Holders

H-3 visa holders are allowed to bring their spouse and dependent children under 21 years of age to the United States under H-4 visa status. They may remain in the United States as long as the H-3 visa holder’s visa is valid. Dependents of H-3 visa holders are not allowed to work under an H-4 visa. Dependents of H-3 visa holders may study at schools, colleges, or universities and do not need to obtain separate student visas.

Written by:Mark Carmel