nationals who come to the United States for the purpose of job training
by a U.S. company or government agency may apply for a temporary trainee
visa (H-3). H-3 visa holders are not allowed to work for
any company other than the company providing the training. The main
objective of the program should be
training and not the work. For a full description of the basic
requirements, see the article: "H-3 Visa Eligibility for Temporary Trainees."
H-3 Visa Application Process
Before you can apply for an H-3 visa, you will need to have been
offered a training position by a U.S. company (whether related to the
company where you now work or not) or a U.S. government agency. After
that, getting your H-3 visa will involve between one and three steps, as
- The company or agency where you will receive training must submit a
visa petition on Form I-129 (issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services or USCIS), and pay a nonrefundable fee. If you are already in
the U.S. in lawful status (most likely with another form of visa), the
petition can ask that your status be immediately changed to H-3 worker,
in which case you won't need to do anything further. However, if
you are applying from within the U.S., and a spouse or children are with
you, they will have to submit Form I-539 to USCIS asking for a change
of status. The company or agency will need to include various docuemnts
with the I-129, especially if you are inside the U.S. (such as proof of
your intent to return to your home country and proof of your current
lawful status). If you're outside the U.S., it will need to include a
copy of your valid passport, with an expiration date far enough in the
future that it covers your whole stay in the U.S. plus six months.
- If you are currently outside the United States, then you must wait
for USCIS to approve the I-129 petition. After that, you will need to
schedule an interview at a U.S. consulate in your home country.
(However, if you are Canadian, you can skip this step.) Your H-3 visa
should be issued at or soon after this interview.
- With your visa (or if you're from Canada, your visa petition
approval notice from USCIS) you can enter the U.S. and claim your H-3
When applying for an H-3 visa at a U.S. consulate, you will need to bring the following
- USCIS approval notice for Form
I-129 (issued on Form I-797), together with copies of the I-129 petition and supporting materials.
- Proof of having completed the online Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
- Proof of your strong ties to your home country, which will motivate
your timely return. These can include, for example, deeds or leases for a
house or apartment, your written statement explaining that close
relatives are staying behind (with their birth or marriage
certificates), and a letter from your employer stating that a job awaits
you upon your return.
- Your passport, valid for at least six months beyond your expected return date.
- One color photo of you and each family member applying with you, in U.S. passport style.
- If spouse and children (unmarried, under age 21) are to accompany
you, documents verifying the family relationship, such as original
marriage and birth certificates.
At the consulate, you will be expected to pay a machine-readable visa
fee, and possibly a reciprocity fee, depending on agreements between
your country and the United States. For the latest fees, see the "Fees for Visa Services" page of the U.S. State Department's website.
H-3 trainee visas are usually issued for
the duration of the training program, not to exceed two years. But if
your original stay was for less than two years, your employer can ask
for an extension on your behalf, to bring the total time up to two
The application process is very similar to the first one: Your
employer files Form I-129 with USCIS, along with the approval notice
from your first visa, a copy of your U.S. income tax return from the
previous year, and a copy of your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
You must also submit Form I-539 for any family members. If, however, you
leave the U.S. for a brief trip after this exension is approved, you
will need to visit a U.S. consulate before your return, to get your visa