The H3 visa classification is for foreign nationals seeking on-the-job training provided by a US company or a US government agency. Through this visa, foreign nationals can come to the US for the purpose of training in any field including, but not limited to commerce, communications, finance, government, transportation, agriculture, government leadership or “special education”. It is important to note that this visa classification is not intended for employment within the US but rather for job related training for up to two years for the foreign national to work in their home country.
To qualify for an H3 visa, similar training opportunities must not exist in the foreign national’s home country. A foreign national will not qualify under this visa category if they are coming to the US for graduate education or training.
As the H3 visa category is not employment-based, labor certification by the US employer is not needed. Though there is no numerical limit or “cap” for the number of temporary trainees H-3 visas allowed per year, a limit of fifty “special education” H-3 visas are only allowed per year.
Training programs offered by US employers fall into two categories:
- A US company may have branches in foreign countries and will frequently train foreign employees in their US facilities before they go back to work overseas; or
- A US company, in order to form a better relationship with a foreign company, may bring some of the foreign company’s employees to train in the US to learn more about the US business.
The H-3 trainee will generally be admitted for the length of the training program. Once in the US, an H-3 trainee may apply to extend status for a maximum period of two years. Trainees who are in special education can stay in the US for a period of eighteen months. Trainees who remain in the US for the maximum period of two years will have to wait a minimum of six months from the date of departure before applying for another H visa.
Features of the H3 Visa Category
An H3 visa holder can take part in a training program offered by a US company or US government agency, and therefore can work legally in the US, as long it is not productive employment. In order to apply for an H3 visa at a US Consulate overseas, the visa applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved visa petition. In other words, before the trainee can apply for the visa, the company which is sponsoring the training should file a petition with the USCIS. Generally, the USCIS takes two to four months to approve the visa petition. After the petition is approved, the applicant has to schedule an appointment to apply for the visa at a nearby consulate.
An H-3 visa holder can travel in and out of the US freely or can stay in the US continuously until the visa expires. Additionally, H-4 visas are available for accompanying spouses or unmarried children under the age of twenty-one. H-4 visa holders cannot work in this country but they can study in US primary and secondary schools.