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What is a Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visa? An H-3 Overview

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Rebecca Rivera, Account Coordinator

Zachary Johnson, PhD., Founding Partner

Emily Fischer, Account Coordinator


Includes insights from H-3 Expert, Alice Burgos – Founding Attorney at Burgos Law


This paper is part of ProfVal’s H-3 series. Nothing herein or on ProfVal's website constitutes legal advice.

Abstract: Provides an H-3 overview. Discusses H-3 trends, general steps for getting an H-3, and ProfVal's role in the H-3 process. Includes the perspective of H-3 expert, Alice Burgos – Founding Attorney at Burgos Law. ProfVal provides customized H-3 Expert Opinion Letters.


What is an H-3 training visa?


As per the USCIS, an H-3 visa is classified as a Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor visa, and it allows noncitizens to temporarily come to the United States as a Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor. The H-3 visa allows noncitizen trainees to receive training in any career field, other than graduate medical education or training, that is not available in their home country. Additionally, it allows special education exchange visitors to participate in a special education exchange visitor training program that provides for practical training and experience in the education of children with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.


Additional details on H-3 applications


As stated by the USCIS website, there are no limits on the number of people who can be granted H-3 visas each year, although the H-3 petition must be submitted by the organization or institution on behalf of the international trainee. The H-3 visa can be approved for the length of time needed for the worker to complete the training program, although no more than two years are normally permitted.




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“The type of programs that are appropriate for H-3 visas depend on the overall goals and objectives of the petitioning company. Training programs can be developed for almost any career. In addition, H-3 visas may be appropriate in lieu of J-1 Trainee visas. However, H-3 programs are more prevalent in industries related to science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. Furthermore, H-3 visas are also appropriate when a company abroad has a U.S. based location (or vice versa) and a current employee or new hire requires in-person training in the United States in order to excel in their position at a worksite location abroad.”


~ Alice Burgos – Founding Attorney at Burgos Law


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H-3 trends and RFEs


According to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs, between FY 2020 and FY 2022, the USCIS received 1,805 H-3 visa applications, 1,524 of which were approved and 253 of which were refused—a roughly 14% denial rate (Nonimmigrant Visa Statistics).


To learn more about H-3 visa requirements, visit our post on an Overview of H-3 Visa Requirements, which is part of the H-3 section of our blog.


Alice Burgos, Founding Attorney at Burgos Law, lists the most common reasons that H-3 applications receive RFEs / denials. She states that these reasons include:


  • Insufficient detail in the training plan.

  • Insufficient proof that the H-3 Trainee will not participate in productive employment.

  • Insufficient proof that the H-3 Trainee will not be placed in a position that is part of the normal business operations of the company in which citizens and residents are normally employed.

  • Insufficient proof that the training plan is not designed to recruit and train H-3 Trainees for permanent job opportunities with the U.S. based company.

  • Insufficient proof that the same or similar training programs are not available in the H-3 Trainee’s home country.

  • Insufficient proof that the H-3 Trainee will have a career opportunity abroad after the completion of the training program / that the training obtained will prepare them to obtain a career abroad.

  • Insufficient proof that the H-3 Trainee does not already possess the training and expertise being provided in the training program.

  • Insufficient proof that the U.S. based company has sufficient staff to concurrently conduct the training and the company’s normal operations.

Some of these areas can be addressed via an H-3 Expert Opinion Letter from ProfVal.



What are the general steps for getting an H-3?


Before you do anything else, we again recommend working with a qualified immigration attorney who specializes in H-3 visas. For this article, we sought insights from Alice Burgos, Founding Attorney at Burgos Law,


Once you have legal representation, your process will likely include these steps along with various sub-steps:


  • Find an organization / institution with an appropriate U.S. training program that is related to your desired career field and apply to be admitted. Or, if you’re interested in a particular organization / institution, reach out to them to discuss the possibility of creating an H-3 training program at their organization / institution for international trainees.

  • If admitted, the organization / institution where the training program is being held should vet you to make sure that you qualify for their H-3 training program before initiating the H-3 visa process.

  • If approved after the vetting process has been completed, the organization / institution will typically work with an immigration attorney to submit the appropriate supporting documentation, along with Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, to the USCIS. Your attorney may include an H-3 Expert Opinion Letter from ProfVal either in your original submission or in an RFE.

  • If the petition is approved, USCIS will send a Form I-797 H-3 Approval Notice to the organization / institution.

  • If you are consular processing, the next steps would entail the completion of the visa application process at the U.S. consulate.


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“H-3s are not commonly used visas and immigration officers are often not familiar with this visa type. Therefore, H-3 visas are highly scrutinized by immigration and require strategic lawyering to be successful. A Request for Evidence (“RFE”) being issued for an H-3 application is more likely than not to occur even if the most skilled professional prepares the application. However, hiring a lawyer that understands the ‘secret sauce’ to prepare H-3 applications and respond to H-3 RFEs is the difference between a denial and an approval.”


~ Alice Burgos – Founding Attorney at Burgos Law


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What is ProfVal's Role within the H-3 visa process?


ProfVal’s role is to provide an external, unbiased evaluation of U.S. training programs to demonstrate that: i) a training program meets H-3 requirements and ii) that the trainee does not have this training available in their home country, or to distinguish the differences between the U.S. training program from any similar training that may be available within the trainee’s home country. To do this, ProfVal, LLC provides H-3 Expert Opinion Letters which can support your initial H-3 application or as part of your response to a Request for Evidence (RFE).


An H-3 Expert Opinion Letter from ProfVal helps you to provide the requested evidence by working with a disciplined expert to examine and describe the structure and purpose of a given training program, then to indicate the reasons why such training cannot be obtained in the trainee’s home country and why it is necessary for them to be trained in the United States. ProfVal’s EOLs provide value to a visa application, as they enable the USCIS agent to have an honest, third-party appraisal of the organization / institution’s training program, explained in simple terms, to help them more easily understand how a training program meets H-3 requirements. Additionally, the USCIS agent will understand that the expert providing the letter is honest in their analysis and recommendation, as our experts are paid irrespective of whether they can give a positive appraisal or not. Thus, ProfVal adds transparency to the immigration process, which helps organizations to provide training to foreign trainees while aiding these trainees in expanding their career knowledge and skills through training programs in the U.S.



(C) ProfVal 2023


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This paper is part of ProfVal’s H-3 series. Nothing in this article or any other article provided by ProfVal can be construed as legal advice. If a lawyer is quoted within the article, they are providing general comments about the immigration process; their comments cannot be taken as legal advice from them or the firm that they represent. Further, a quote by a lawyer does not indicate their agreement or disagreement with any content within this article. There is no affiliation between ProfVal and any other person or organization cited within this article.



ProfVal, LLC (profval.com) is a purpose-driven, professor-founded, and ethically-grounded provider of Expert Opinion Letters that can be used to support employment- and trainee-based visas (H-3, H-1B, L1, EB, O). ProfVal is dedicated to helping clients through services built based on an architecture of research. ProfVal is dedicated to helping our communities through our giving site, profval.org.


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