H-3 Visa

The H-3 Visa is specifically tailored for applicants who need in-house company training from a US entity. H-3 status may be granted for any period up to two years. As distinguished from the J-1 training visa, the H-3 cannot perform hands-on work but instead is gaining essential on-the-job training by shadowing workers and classroom style in-house training.

The H-3 visa holder may receive training in any field, including commerce, communications finance, government, transportation, agriculture or the professions (except doctors who are governed by special regulations). An H-3 applicant is allowed to apply for a change of status or extension before the two year period is expired, under certain circumstances. However, no extension, change of status or re-admission will be granted to the H-3 applicant after the two years has been used, unless he or she lives out of the U.S. for six months.

When would someone apply for an H-3?

A classic H-3 applicant works at a foreign branch of a US company, where all training globally is held at the US office. However there are other legitimate reasons to request H-3 training including: a corporate rotation to better enable overseas employment; educating an overseas client about the employer's business; training a co-venturer in the employer's methodology; or training a worker who will then open a "start up" operation abroad for the U.S. company.

What does an H-3 trainee need to show, in order to qualify?

The applicant must document the following in order to obtain the H-3 visa:

  • Non-immigrant intent, i.e. a firm desire and intent to return to the home country after the authorized grant of stay
  • The training must be unavailable in the foreign national's home country
  • The applicant cannot be placed in a position that would normally be held by a U.S. worker
  • No "productive employment" is allowed unless it is incidental to training and necessary for preparing the applicant to perform that position outside of the U.S.

What type of training is allowed?

DHS wants to see that the H-3 visa holder will shadow executives and other employees; that he or she will study textbooks, operational manuals and proprietary manuals. The applicant may also enroll in some college courses. The applicant will be closely monitored and will have tests, and frequent conversations with superiors that will be used to ensure that the training is complete, with the applicant learning all required aspects of the training.

To better understand what type of training is allowed, let's look at what is not:

  • The training is too general or has no objective means of evaluation
  • The training is incompatible with the employer's business
  • The applicant already has substantial expertise in the training area or subject matter **This is especially important for those applicants already in a training program: be able to show the training is substantially different.
  • It is unlikely that the training will be used outside of the U.S.
  • The training will result in productive employment, meaning the training involves functions, responsibilities, duties and schedules that are the same as a U.S. Worker regularly employed at the training site
  • The business does not have sufficient physical plan and personnel to conduct the training
  • The training is designed to extend time granted for training a foreign student
  • The training is intended to recruit workers for the company

Other Business Visas That Might Apply:

In addition to H-3 visas, DHS also grants work visas to foreign workers with bachelor's degrees, business immigration visas to investors, intra-company transfer employees and applicants seeking on-the-job training. Some categories require a bachelor's degree, but several work visas exist for those lacking a four year college level degree. For more information about these business immigration visas, please read these articles: