Training foreign nationals? Yes, there’s a visa for that. Training foreign nationals? Yes, there’s a visa for that.

Training foreign nationals? Yes, there’s a visa for that.

A multinational company wants all of its new engineers to participate in a new hire training program at its global headquarters in the U.S. The training program activities are too extensive to permit use of B-1 business visitor visa, and the proposed length of the training program exceeds what the B-1 would afford. The new hires will not qualify for other work visas because they have not been employed long enough and otherwise do not meet the stringent requirements for L-1 or H-1B visas. With all of these restrictions, the best option may be H-3, an underutilized visa option that gives companies like this one an opportunity to train foreign employees in the U.S. and prepare them for their continuing work with other entities around the world.

H-3 is a training visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. and participate in an established training program for up to two (2) years. It is not the only training visa that exists; J-1 is another visa option for interns and trainees and is more widely used, but J-1 is for a shorter duration, carries minimum education/experience requirements, requires English language proficiency, and in some cases, requires the foreign national to remain outside the U.S. for two (2) years at the conclusion of the program before being readmitted in H or L status.

H-3 is a good alternative to some of those restrictions, particularly when the required training will exceed 18 months or the trainee does not meet the educational or experience requirements associated with J-1. The H-3 petition process also allows for multiple trainees to be included on a single petition, so it can be a more cost-effective option when several individuals will participate in the same program. Despite some of its procedural advantages, however, H-3 is not without limitations. The U.S. training program must already be established and provide at least some classroom training. The training also cannot be conducted with the intention of eventual employment in the U.S. Instead, the purpose of the training must be to provide the trainees with knowledge and experience unavailable to them in their home country so that they can make use of the training upon their return.

Even with its limitations, the H-3 should be considered as a visa option for training activities in the U.S. If you have questions about H-3 sponsorship or other training and work visa categories, please contact Christl P. Glier or any other member of Ice Miller's Immigration Practice Group.
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