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Q: CULTURAL EXCHANGE

An alien who has a residence in a foreign country which he has no intention of abandoning who is coming temporarily to the United States as a participant in an international cultural exchange program may apply for Q-1 nonimmigrant visa. 

Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs are allowed to petition for Q nonimmigrants. The Q-1 classification applies to participants in an international cultural exchange program approved by the U.S. Attorney General for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of the alien's home country.

An applicant must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of their country. 

Steps to Obtain Q Visa 

A sponsoring organization may file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with evidence that the employer maintains an established international cultural exchange program. Submitted materials must illustrate that: 

  • the cultural component of the program is designed to give an overview of the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, tradition and/or other cultural attributes of the participant's home country; 

  • the program activities take place in a public setting where the sharing of culture can be achieved through direct interaction with the American public or a segment thereof; 

  • has designated a qualified employee to administer the program and serve as liaison with USCIS; 

  • will offer the alien wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local domestic workers similarly employed; and 

  • has the financial ability to compensate the participant(s), as shown by a copy of the employer's most recent annual report, business income tax return or other form of certified accountant's report.

Extensions and Visa Renewals 

A petition for international cultural exchange is approved for a period of 15 months plus 30 days for departure at the end of the program. A new petition must be filed each time the qualified employer wishes to sponsor an exchange visitor, although it may replace or substitute a participant's name on a previously approved petition for the remainder of the program.

Family of Q Visa Holders 

The Q nonimmigrant visa does not have a provision for any spouse or children to accompany or follow to join a Q-1 nonimmigrant.