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Q Visa (Cultural Exchange)

The Q1 category allows an employer to file for participants in an international cultural exchange program to the U.S. for training and to work for a maximum of 15 months. 

What are the requirements for the Q category? 

The Q1 category allows an employer to file for participants in an international cultural exchange program to the U.S., for training and to work for a maximum of 15 months. 

 

In order to qualify as an international cultural exchange program the program must - 

• be accessible to the public by taking place in a school, museum, business or other establishment where the American public, or a segment of the public sharing a common cultural interest, is exposed to aspects of a foreign culture as part of a structured program; and 

 

• have a cultural component, which is an essential and integral part of the international cultural exchange visitor's employment or training, and which is designed to exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, or traditions of the international cultural exchange visitor's country. 

The international cultural exchange visitor's employment or training in the U.S. cannot be independent of the cultural component of the international cultural exchange program. The work must serve as the vehicle to achieve the objectives of the cultural component. 

How does an employer start the process? 

There are two steps. First, the employer files a petition for the Q nonimmigrant worker on Form I-129. A Q petition may only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. 

 

If the petition is approved – 

• if the worker is outside the U.S., he or she will go through the nonimmigrant visa process, and then enter as a Q worker; 

• if the worker is already here, and that was indicated in the petition, the worker can begin work for the employer as described in the employer’s petition. 

There is no corresponding category for the dependents of a Q1 to accompany the Q1.