H-3 Visa for Trainees

Scottsdale Visa Attorneys

H-3 visaGeneral

An employer can request permission from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to employ selected foreign national workers with H-3 work authorizations for up to two years.  The purpose of the H-3 program is to allow U.S. companies to bring in foreign individuals to train in the U.S. and then send them to the employer’s operations (or those of a key customer or other commercial relationship) abroad, to serve as a local contact, or perform in the positions trained for. The employer must establish and submit a training program that involves both classroom instruction and on-the-job training for the individual. The aliens enrolled in the training program may perform work for the petitioning employer, so long as the work is “incidental” to the training.  The trainees may receive wages. This is an excellent way to facilitate expansion into foreign markets.


Before an alien can enter the United States as a trainee in the H-3 category, the employer must petition the USCIS on the I-129 form, attaching information about the company, and an outline of the proposed training program.  In the support letter and outline, the employer is required to (1) specify the kind of training to be given, (2) the proportion of time devoted to productive employment, (3) the number of hours spent in classroom instruction, (4) the number of hours in on-the-job training, (5) the position or duties for which the training will prepare the alien, (6) the reason the training cannot be received in the alien’s home country, and (7) the reason the alien must be trained in the United States.

Processing times vary, but generally expect at least 3 months for approval of an H-3 petition. Premium processing is available. After USCIS approves the petition, the employee must schedule an appointment with the U.S. Consulate in his or her home country, and then apply for the H-3 visa. If approved, a visa will be placed in the employee’s passport in roughly one week’s time.


The USCIS has placed several limitations on this category. For example, trainees are not allowed to participate in productive employment.  When on-the-job training consists of little more than the repetition and practical application of skills, it is likely to be considered productive employment. Other indications of productive employment include a high salary, prior experience indicating that the training would be little more than a repetition of the prior experience, on-the-job training which does not impart skills, and the degree to which the activities of the trainees are essential to the company’s U.S. operations.

Another limitation on H-3 is that the employer must have the intention to return the trainee abroad. In other words, the training cannot be for the purpose of placing the trainee with the U.S. operation once training is complete.  Similarly, the trainee must have the intention to depart the United States upon completion of the training and must maintain a foreign residence which he or she has no intention of abandoning.  It should be noted, however, that the employer may have initial plans to employ graduates of its training program in facilities abroad or as agents abroad.

If you are an employer wanting to request permission from the USCIS to employ selected foreign national workers with H-3 work authorizations, contact the Arizona Immigration Attorneys at JCL Immigration today.