H-3: Trainees

H-3 status allows an alien to enter the United States for the purpose of receiving training or instruction (other than graduate medical education/training – but medical externships and training in nursing is permitted). Typically, multinational companies use this status to train foreign nationals in methods and procedures of its U.S. operations. It can also be used to provide information and training on a company’s U.S. products to foreign nationals who work abroad for related or client companies where such knowledge is necessary to the success of their career.




The H-3 program cannot be designed to “primarily provide productive employment” and must meet the following regulatory criteria:


  1. Training is not available in the alien’s home country;

  2. Alien will not be placed in a position where a citizen or permanent resident is regularly employed;

  3. There will be no productive employment unless it is incidental and necessary to the training and aids in pursuit of career outside the United States; and

  4. Training will benefit the alien in pursuit of a career outside the United States.


The petitioning company must provide a detailed description of the training program, including:


  • Type of training to be provided;

  • Nature and extent of the supervision to be given;

  • Training program’s structure;

  • Proportion of time devoted to productive employment;

  • Number of hours to be spent in classroom and on-the-job training;

  • Career abroad for which the training will prepare the trainee;

  • Reasons why such training cannot be obtained or conducted in a foreign country;

  • Confirmation that the foreign national is qualified for training (but not overqualified);

  • Source of any remuneration to be received by the trainee

  • Benefit that the U.S. employer will gain from providing the training.


Length of Stay


Admission is for the length of the program, not to exceed two years. Once the two-year period has been reached, no extensions, change of status, or readmission is possible without a six-month absence from the U.S. This limitation does not apply when the H-3 visa holder was in the United States seasonally, intermittently, or for an aggregate of 180 days or less in each calendar year.

Note that for special education exchange programs, the maximum length of the program is limited to 18 months and subject to an annual quota of 50 visas per year.