H-3 Visa for “Trainees” or Educators to Participate in a Special Education Exchange Program

More than anything else, the success of a visa petition to allow for issuance of an H-3 trainee visa depends on details, details and more details. No less important is attention to the long list of requirements that the underlying training program must include in order to have a chance at approval.    Below is some guidance on the most important details and requirements to address. 

Firstly, the H-3 nonimmigrant visa is an avenue through which a foreign national can enter the U.S. temporarily to participate in a: 

  • Trainee program – to be trained in any field (excluding graduate level training in medicine) and where such training cannot be obtained in the visa applicant’s home country,
  • Special Education Exchange Visitor program – for educators to participate in an exchange program to receive training on educating children with a variety of disabilities.  

Additional information can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-2-part-j

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Trainees

An H-3 visa may be available to a foreign national who is offered an opportunity to participate in a training program in virtually any field, including:  

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

This visa is limited to training and cannot be used as an avenue to allow the visa holder to engage in productive employment.  Instead, the visa is offered with the aim of allowing the foreign national to acquire training in a particular job and to apply that training at a position to be assumed outside the U.S. 

Among the requirements for H-3 visa issuance, the petitioning U.S. organization must document:

  • The training program at issue must be administered in the U.S. and cannot take place in the applicant’s home country;
  • The H-3 trainee will not assume a role a U.S. worker within the company would typically be assigned or which is a part of the company’s normal day to day business activities,
  • The H-3 trainee will not carry out responsibilities considered productive employment unless those roles or responsibilities are a necessary part of the training program at issue; and
  • The H-3 trainee will gain the type of experience that will allow him/her to carry out job responsibilities outside the United States.

Also required in support of the H-3 filing is a detailed description:

  • Of all particulars and structure of the training program and the oversight of the trainee that will be administered;
  • Of the breakdown of time spent during the course of a given day, and specifying the amount of time, if any, that will involve productive employment – as well as the time  allotted for classroom as well as practical on the job education;
  • Of the position outside the U.S. the H-3 is being trained to fill,
  • Explaining why the training program being administered in the U.S. cannot be carried out in the H-3 trainee’s home country and
  • Of the source of compensation being provided for the trainee and any incidental benefit the petitioning H-3 company will gain by way of administering the H-3 trainee program.

The regulations specifically prohibit the approval of a training regimen that: 

  • Is too general, and without definite schedules, timelines, goals and evaluation standards, 
  • Is incompatible with the nature of the petitioner’s business or enterprise;
  • Is providing training in a substantive area in which the petitioned H-3 trainee already possesses a level of expertise,
  • Covers an area of knowledge not likely to be of use for application outside the U.S.;
  • Involves productive employment and beyond which is integral for a successful training program,;
  • Is aimed at the recruitment of foreign nationals to be integrated into the petitioning organization’s workforce;
  • Fails to demonstrate the U.S. petitioner has the premises and an adequately staffed operation to administer the training program at issue; or
  • Is aimed at lengthening at an already completed student visa related practical training program.

Special Education Exchange Visitor

The annual allotment of Special Education H-3 visas is limited to 50.   

Only an organization with a professional workforce and a structured program designed to educate disabled children and allow for special education providers to gain practical experience in a specialized program can file for this type of visa. Supporting documentation for this type of H-3 visa should include a detailed statement describing:

  • The proposed training that will be provided to the petitioned foreign national;
  • The composition of the organization’s professional workforce; and
  • The nature of the petitioned individual’s participation in the program being administered.

Also, the filing must include proof the exchange visitor:

  • Is substantially on their way to completing a university degree curriculum in special education, 
  • Received a university degree in special education or
  • Has already gained significant expertise educating children challenged with one or more types of developmental disabilities.

How to File:

The first step toward facilitating issuance of an H-3 visa is for the U.S. petitioning organization to submit Form I-129 along with all specified supporting documentation.

Duration of Visa

H-3 trainees may be approved for entry into the U.S. for no more than 2 years. For H-3 special education exchange visitors, entry in the U.S cannot exceed 18 months.

H-3 Visa Family Members

An H-4 dependent visa can be issued to the spouse and under 21 years of age children seeking to accompany the principal H-3 entrant into the U.S. 

For more information on H-3 visas see:  https://fam.state.gov/fam/09FAM/09FAM040210.html