H-3 nonimmigrant trainee or special education exchange visitor visa

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Dev B. Viswanath, Esq. (Photo courtesy of Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.)

An H-3 visa is a work visa for foreign individuals who would like to come to the U.S. for a specific period of time to receive training or special education. If an individual comes to the U.S. to receive training they must enroll in a training program which is not available to them in their home country. Some areas of training can be in the fields of agriculture, commerce, communication, finance, or transportation. The individual can not receive a full academic degree while in the training program or receive any medical training. An individual’s purpose for attending a training program should be to obtain advanced skills which are not available in their home country and then go back home and apply them. The training should also help the individual advance in their career. If an individual comes to the U.S. to receive special education training they must enroll in an academic or hands-on program in order to advance their understanding of children with special needs. Special needs may include physical needs, mental challenges, or emotional challenges.

In order to qualify for an H-3 visa a foreign individual must receive an invitation from the training organization to attend their program. The individual should provide USCIS with a letter describing in detail the training organization and the program they will be enrolled in. The letter should include information such as:

The syllabus of the program;

The schedule of when lectures will be held, when, and if necessary, how many hours of practical work will take place;

What benefits the organization receives by providing that specific type of training;

How the applicant will be benefited by the program; and/or

Why this type of program is not available in the individual’s foreign home.

Similar to other H visas, the H-3 visa can not be applied for by a foreign national themselves, the organization where the training will be held needs to petition for the foreign national to be granted an H-3 visa. The organization is required to send a petition to USCIS with a description of the training or special education program, proof that such program is offered at the organization, and supporting documents as to why the applicant should be granted an H-3 visa. Supporting documents can include information about an applicant’s educational background, employment history, and if they had received any training in the past. An applicant who would like to receive special education training must show that they are almost done with a baccalaureate or higher degree program in special education, or has already received a baccalaureate or higher degree program in special education, or have a lot of prior training and experience teaching children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. A form I-129 must also be filled out and included in an H-3 visa petition.

An H-3 visa holder is not allowed to work in the U.S, the only type of work that is allowed is practical work that is part of the course work of the training program. There are not many H-3 special education visas granted yearly, only 50 H-3 special education visas may be granted in a fiscal year. An H-3 visa holder in a training program may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 2 years and an H-3 visa holder in a special education program may be allowed to stay in the U.S for up to 18 months. Spouses and children under the age of 21 may come with an H-3 visa holder to the U.S. as an H-4 nonimmigrant. Spouses and children are not allowed to work while under the H-4 visa status but they are allowed to attend school.

If you or a loved one have any questions at all, please reach out to a knowledgeable Immigration Professional.

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