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H3 Visa for Trainees or Special Education Exchange Visitors

The H3 Visa is intended for foreign citizens who want to come to the US for training. If your application for it is successful, you will be able to stay in the country for up to two years. Find out more about the eligibility requirements and the application process.

To receive assistance with your visa application, call us today on +1 844 290 6312 (US office) or +443334149244 (UK office).

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    What is the H3 Visa?

    The H3 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign citizens to temporarily come to the US either as a trainee to receive professional training in any field other than graduate medical education, or as a Special Education Exchange Visitor to participate in a special education programme focusing on helping children with disabilities.

    Thanks to the H3 Visa, you can come to the US to receive training that is not available in your home country. You can then use the experience and skills you get in the US to find a job abroad. Keep in mind that if you come to the US on the H3 Visa, you will not be able to work.

    Who qualifies as a Trainee for the H3 Visa?

    To be able to receive the H3 Visa, Trainees have to be invited by an individual or organisation to come to the US to receive training that will help them find employment outside the US. Foreign citizens can train in any field including communications, finance, transportation, and agriculture. Nevertheless, other sectors might also be eligible for the H3 Visa.

    To be able to receive a trainee, a US employer or organisation has to be able to show that:

    • The training programs offered are not available in the foreign citizen’s country.
    • The H3 Visa holder will not be placed in a position where US citizens and permanent residents are regularly employed.
    • The H3 Visa holder will not engage in regular employment in the US.
    • The training is intended to help the foreign citizen coming as a trainee to find employment outside the US.

    Before the foreign citizen can initiate their application for the H3 Visa, a US employer or organisation needs to petition to USCIS on their behalf. In the petition, they need to include the following information:

    • The type of training that will be given to the H3 Visa holder
    • The structure of the training programme
    • The duration of the training
    • The reason why the training cannot be obtained in the visa applicant’s home country
    • The reason why it is necessary for the applicant to receive the training in the US
    • The remuneration that the trainee will receive
    • The benefits the employer or organisation will have from taking on a trainee.

    Who qualifies as a Special Education Exchange Visitor?

    Organisations that want to host Special Education Exchange Visitors need to have professionally trained staff that know how to take care of and provide education to children with disabilities. Each year only 50 Special Education Exchange Visitors can be admitted into the US.

    The application process for the H3 Visa as a Special Education Exchange Visitor starts with the facility submitting a petition to USCIS for them. The petition has to include the following:

    • Description of the training the foreign citizen will receive
    • Overview of the facility’s professional staff
    • Description of what the foreign citizen’s tasks will be during the training
    • Proof that the Special Education Exchange Visitor has completed or is about to complete a baccalaureate or higher degree programme in special education, or proof that the Special Education Exchange Visitor has extensive experience in working with children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

    What are the requirements for the H3 Visa?

    Regardless, whether you want to receive the H3 Visa as a Trainee or as a Special Education Exchange Visitor, you have to meet the following requirements:

    • Not be coming to the US with the purpose of receiving graduate medical training.
    • Not be coming to the US to seek employment
    • Not being a US citizen or permanent resident
    • Be coming to the US to receive training that will help you find employment in another country.
    • Be able to prove that the same training is not available in your home country.

    As for the organisations that want to host H3 Visa holders, they have to:

    • Be able to provide a detailed description of the training, its objectives and schedule
    • Be able to prove that the training can help the foreign citizen find employment in another country.
    • Be able to prove that the training is relevant to the field the applicant specialises in
    • Be able to provide an example of how the foreign citizen can use the skills and experience gained during the training after they leave the US.
    • Be able to prove that the organisation is adequately trained to work with children with disabilities.

    Furthermore, USCICS specifies that training programs will not be eligible under this visa if:

    • It does not present a satisfactory plan for a fixed schedule, objective or means of evaluation.
    • It is not in line with the nature of the organisation running it.
    • It petitions for a foreign citizen who already has substantial training or knowledge in the area of training proposed.
    • It is in a field that will be unlikely to be applied outside of the US.
    • It is ultimately designed to facilitate the training and ultimate employment of foreign citizens in the US.
    • It is not clearly specified that the organisation has the sufficient resources or manpower to deliver the training.

    How to apply for the H3 Visa?

    The application process for the H3 Visa starts with a US employer or organisation filing Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker on behalf of the visa applicant. If you do not have a US sponsor, you will not be able to apply for the H3 Visa. The petition should not be filed more than six months before the planned start of the training.

    After the petition is approved by USCIS, you will be able to proceed with the application. To do that, you will have to complete and submit Form DS-160 to the US Consulate in your home country. You will also need to include the following documents:

    • Form I-797
    • Valid passport
    • Passport size photograph
    • Birth certificate
    • Marriage certificate (if you are legally married)
    • Evidence of having ties in your home country that will make you go back there once your visa expires.

    What are the privileges and limitations of the H3 Visa?

    If you are granted the H3 Visa, you will be able to enter the US and receive professional training. While your H3 Visa is valid, you will be able to leave and re-enter the US as many times as you wish. Moreover, if you would like to bring your loved ones to the US, they can apply for the H4 Visa and accompany you.

    There are, however, certain limitations of the H3 Visa. When you are in the US on the H3 Visa, you will not be able to receive any type of medical training and you will not be able to seek regular employment. Similarly, if your dependents come to the US with you, they will not be allowed to work. Finally, once your visa expires, you need to leave the US immediately. It is not possible to extend it.

    How long is the H3 Visa valid for?

    If you receive the H3 Visa as a Trainee, you will be able to come to the US and stay there for up to two years. If, however, you are coming to the US as a Special Education Exchange Visitor, your H3 Visa will be valid for up to eighteen months.

    There are no travel restrictions on the H3 Visa. That means that while your visa is valid, you can leave the US to travel and then come back without losing your status. There is also no limit on how long you can stay abroad.

    Keep in mind, however, that once the initial validity of visa expires, you will have to leave the US. There are no extensions of the H3 Visa. If you really need to stay in the US longer, you may apply for a change of status to, for example, the H1B Visa. To be eligible for it, you have to receive a job offer and a US employer has to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker for you.

    Can I bring dependents to the US on the H3 Visa?

    As a H3 Visa holder you are allowed to bring your dependents, so your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21, to the US with you. For your family to be able to come with you, however, your dependents have to apply for the H4 Visa. It is a permit intended for dependents of H visa holders.

    To apply for the H4 Visa, your dependents have to file Form DS-160 online and pay the application fee of $190. If their application for it is successful, they will be able to temporarily live in the US and study. Nevertheless, they will not be allowed to work.

    Their H4 Visa will be valid as long as your H3 Visa is valid.

    If you have any questions about your H3 Visa application, our team is happy to assist.

    How can IAS help?

    If you have any questions regarding the application process or the requirements for the H3 Visa, our lawyers can help. Here at IAS, our lawyers have expert knowledge of US immigration law and they have helped many people successfully apply for a range of US visas, including the H3 Visa.

    If you hire one of our lawyers, you will have access to professional support and advice during each step of the application process. Thanks to their help, you can make sure that your visa application is submitted correctly and that you include all the required documents.

    As there is an annual numerical cap on the number of H3 visas issued to Special Education Exchange Visitors, not all applications are accepted. If your H3 Visa has been denied, our immigration lawyers can explain to you what your options are.

    Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about our immigration services.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    On average, the processing time of petitions initiating the application process for the H3 Visa takes four to six weeks. After that, you can expect to wait one to three more months for your H3 Visa application to be processed.

    If you need to have the decision sooner, you can opt for Premium Processing. Then your application will be processed within 15 calendar days. The service is not cheap, however, as it costs $1440.

    Making mistakes in your application or forgetting to include some of the required information, the processing time of the H3 Visa might take longer. That is why it is recommended that you seek assistance from an immigration lawyer.

    The total cost of the H3 Visa is $460. Nevertheless, if your application is urgent and you need to speed up the application process, you might have to pay an additional premium processing fee of $1440.

    The purpose of the H3 Visa is to allow foreign citizens to receive professional training in the US that will help them find employment in another country. That said, H3 Visa holders are not allowed to work in the US. The only instance where you might be allowed to work if it is a part of the training programme.

    There usually are more applicants than available H3 Visas. That is why USCIS rejects some of the applications. The common reasons why H3 Visas are denied are:

    • The cap has already been reached
    • The US organisation did not petition to USCIS in time
    • The training programme is not structured properly
    • Similar training is available in the applicant’s home country.

    If your H3 Visa application has been denied but you still want to come to the US, contact our immigration lawyers. They will assess your eligibility for other US visas and will help you submit your application for one of them.

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