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H-3 Visa: Trainees or Special Education Exchange Visitors

The H-3 visa category is commonly used by foreign nationals who are looking for specific career training in the United States that they would not be able to receive in their home country. Learn more about coming to the United States temporarily as a trainee or special education exchange visitor!

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The H-3 nonimmigrant visa allows applicants to be in the United States for a specified period of time to receive training or special education. More specially, you must fall under one of the two categories which include:

  1. Trainees
  2. Special Education Exchange Visitor
H-3 Visa Processing Time:

The institution accepting you should petition for your visa at least 6 months before the program is set to begin. It typically takes 4-6 weeks for a petition to be processed. Once it has been accepted, you may apply for the H-3 Visa. This process from start to finish usually takes 1-3 months.  

Who Is Eligible for the H-3 Visa?

Anyone looking to further their education through training programs or special education programs in the United States can apply for this type of visa. More specifically, those who are eligible include:


An H-3 “trainee” is an individual or organization for the purpose of receiving training, in any field including but not limited to:  

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

This classification is not created just for US employment.  It is designed to provide a non-citizen resident with job-related training for work that will ultimately be performed outside the United States.

Special Education Exchange Visitor

A petition requesting an H-3 “special education exchange visitor” must be filed by a facility that has professionally trained staff and a structured program for providing education to children with disabilities, and for providing training and hands-on experience to participants in the special education exchange visitor program. It should include a description of:

  • The training the noncitizen will receive
  • The facility’s professional staff
  • The noncitizen’s participation in the training program

There is a cap on the number of H-3 special education exchange visitor applications are accepted. No more than 50 may be approved in a fiscal year. 

How to Apply

To apply for the H-3 visa, you must have a formal acceptance from the training program or special education program. The institution, sometimes considered your “employer” would then need to complete a Form I-129 and petition you as a nonimmigrant worker. It is very important that they submit all the necessary documents to support your application.

Period of Stay

If the visa is approved, the trainee may be allowed to remain in the United States for up to 2 years. If the trainee petition is approved for a special education exchange visitor, the trainee may remain in the United States for up to 18 months.

H-3 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Why would my H-3 application be denied?

Your application might be denied if:

  • The cap has been met
  • The training program did not petion in time
  • The specified program is general or you have already completed similar training at home
  • The applicant plans to be employed in the US

Can I bring my family with me on an H-3 visa?

Yes! You will need to have your spouse and children under 21 apply for an H-4 dependent visa. This type of visa does not allow the holder to work. However, they may apply to change their visa status if they find employment.

Can I convert my H-3 visa into a Green Card?

Absolutely! You may choose to apply for a different type of visa while in the US in order to take a job after the completion of your program. You can do this through an employment-based green card!

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