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B1 In Lieu Of H3: An Often Overlooked Trainee Visa
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Employers requiring their overseas employees to undergo temporary, job-related training in the U.S., often opt for the H3 trainee visa. The H3 visa is available to foreign nationals coming temporarily to the United States to receive training, other than graduate or medical education training, that is not available in their home country. For the benefit of employers and trainees, we present a brief introduction to the often overlooked B1 in lieu of H3 visa, which allows foreign national employees to participate in professional training programs of short durations in the U.S.

B1 in Lieu of H3

The B1 Business Visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. to attend business meetings or seminars. Because of the nature of the B1 visa, it can be used in lieu of the H3 trainee visa by employees participating in short-duration training program.  The B1 in lieu of H3, like the H3 trainee visa, is available to employees participating in a training program that is not designed primarily to provide employment.

General Eligibility for B1 in Lieu of H3 Visa

To be eligible for this special B1 visa, the employee should be employed by the foreign entity or branch of the U.S. firm and this foreign employing entity must continue to pay the employee’s salary.  The applicant must not receive any salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source other than an expense allowance or other reimbursement for expenses incidental to the foreign national’s travel or temporary stay. Further, his or her employer must have an office abroad and his or her payroll must be disbursed abroad.

NOTE: A self-employed professional would fail to qualify for the B1 option based on the fact that there is no foreign entity employing the applicant.

Evidentiary Requirements for B1 in Lieu of H3 Visa

To qualify for the B1 in lieu of H3 visa, foreign nationals must present ample evidence to the consular officer demonstrating, amongst other things, that:

  1. The proposed training is not available in their own country;

  2. They will not be placed in a position which is in the normal operation of the business and in which citizens and resident workers of the U.S. are regularly employed;

  3. They will not engage in productive employment unless such employment is incidental and necessary to the training;

  4. The training will benefit the beneficiary in pursuing a career outside the United States;

  5. The intended stay in the United States is temporary;

  6. There is a definite time limitation to such training;

  7. They will continue to receive a salary from the foreign employer and will receive no salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source other than an expense allowance or other reimbursement for expenses (including room and board) incidental to the temporary stay.

In addition to the above, foreign nationals must also satisfy the general eligibility requirements of a B1 visa by overcoming the presumption of being an intending immigrant. For this purpose, they  must demonstrate that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for job-related training;

  • They plan to remain for a specific, limited period;

  • They have enough funds to cover their expenses in the U.S.;

  • They have compelling social and economic ties abroad; and

  • They have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

B1 in Lieu of H3 and H3 Trainee visa : A Quick Comparison

Factors B1 in Lieu of H3 H3 Trainee Visa
USCIS Petition
Not required
Self Employed Professionals

Self-employed professionals would not qualify based on the fact that there is no foreign entity employing them.

A U.S. company can petition for self-employed professionals to participate in a training program in the U.S.

Visa for Dependents
Dependents do not get a visa automatically. They have to qualify individually for the B2 visa.
Spouse and children who are under the age of 21 may accompany the trainee on H4 classification visas.
Dependents' activities while in U.S.
Dependents cannot study or work on a B2 visa.  A separate F1 visa must be obtained in order for children to study in private school (F1 is not available for primary or high school public education).
Dependents in H4 classification may study. They need not apply for F1 student visa. However, they will not be permitted to work in the United States.
Restriction on future H or L classification
No restriction
Foreign nationals in H3 trainee visa who have spent 24 months in the United States under H or L classification may generally not seek extension, change status, or be readmitted to the United States under H or L classification unless they have  resided and been physically present outside the United States for the immediate prior 6 months.
Status in U.S.
B1 visa holders may not be eligible to apply for a social security number or a driver’s license in the U.S.
H3 trainees should be able to receive social security number and obtain a driver’s license.


Companies desiring to send their employees on short-term, temporary job-related training to the U.S. have the option of selecting between H3 trainee visa and B1 in lieu of H3.  While the B1 in lieu of H3 option does not require a prior USCIS petition as in the H3 scenario, which could take several months to be adjudicated and is often strictly scrutinized, and can be obtained more expeditiously at the embassy or consulate, some consulates are not inclined to grant this visa or will request an advisory opinion before proceeding. Hence, the decision on which visa would be most appropriate to opt for, would depend on the individual facts and circumstances. Companies therefore must consider all options before identifying an appropriate visa option to suit their particular requirements.

Contact VisaPro if you have any questions regarding B1 in lieu of H3 or H3 trainee visa, or need help in filing.

The above article is brought to you by VisaPro. VisaPro’s US Immigration Lawyer Services include H1B visa, H-2B, L-1 visa, E-3 and over 100 Immigration Services.

The information in this article is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions specific to your case, we suggest that you consult with the experienced immigration attorneys Our experienced attorneys will be happy to assist you.

Visit VisaPro regularly for updates and the latest immigration news at:

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