The H-3 non-immigrant visa category (“Trainee” visa) is intended for foreign nationals who come to the US to receive training in a variety of fields. The training sought may consist of “any field of endeavor,” except for graduate medical education or training. The training program must be one that is not designed primarily for the purpose of providing productive employment. Nurses may, in certain particular circumstances, receive training in the US in H-3 status; as may certain foreign medical students in residency or internships seeking to engage in an externship at a U.S. hospital during school vacation.

H-3 visas are issued for a maximum period of 2 years, but H-3 visas will only allow admission for the duration of the particular training program. An H-3 visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children may be entitled to an H-4 derivative status. A person on an H-4 status is not generally permitted to work in the US. However, if he/she finds employment, he/she may wish to seek a change in status to another visa category (B1/B2, E-1, H, LPR, etc.) if he/she independently qualifies for that particular visa category. An individual with valid H-4 status is typically permitted to study in the US, without an approved F-1 Student Visa.

The following regulatory criteria must be met in order to qualify for an H-3 Visa:

An employer must demonstrate that:

  1. the training is not available in the beneficiary applicant’s home country
  2. the beneficiary will not be placed in a position which is in the normal operation of the business and in which citizens and resident workers are regularly employed
  3. The beneficiary will not engage in productive employment unless such employment is incidental and necessary to the training and pursuing a career outside the U.S.
  4. the training will benefit the beneficiary in pursuing a career outside the United States.

According to regulations, every H-3 petition must include a statement indicating that the training program has the following attributes:

  1. describes the type of training and supervision to be given, and the structure of the training program
  2. sets the proportion of time that will be devoted to productive employment
  3. shows the number of hours that will be spent, respectively, in classroom instruction and in on –the-job training
  4. describes the career abroad for which the training will prepare the foreign national
  5. indicates the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the foreign national’s country and why it is necessary for the foreign national to be trained in the United States
  6. indicates the source of any remuneration received by the trainee and any benefit which will accrue to the employer/organization for providing the training.

An acceptable training program must NOT:

  1. have no fixed schedule, objectives or means of evaluation
  2. be incompatible with the nature of the petitioner’s business or enterprise
  3. be on behalf of a foreign national who already possess substantial training and expertise in the proposed field of training
  4. be in a field in which it is unlikely that the knowledge or skill will be used outside the U.S.
  5. likely result in productive employment beyond that which is incidental and necessary to the training
  6. be designed to recruit and train foreign nationals for the ultimate staffing of domestic operations in the United States
  7. fail to establish that the petitioner has the physical plant and sufficiently trained manpower to provide the training specified
  8. be designed to extend the total allowable period of practical training previously authorized a nonimmigrant student.