Q-1 Visa for International Cultural Exchange Visitors

Q-1 Visa for International Cultural Exchange Visitors to the United States

Is a Q-1 visa right for me?

The Q-1 visa is for participation in certain international cultural exchange programs. These programs are designed to provide practical training and employment and allow program participants to share the history, culture, and traditions of their home countries in the United States. A person who wants to participate in an international cultural exchange program must be approved in advance by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the basis of a petition filed by the U.S. sponsor.  If you are interested in obtaining a Q-1 Visa as a cultural exchange visitor, please contact our experienced Los Angeles immigration attorneys.  We offer a free initial consultation and can help you today.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]


What are the USCIS Q-1 visa requirements?

In order for a Q-1 visa applicant to obtain a Q-1 visa, an interested employer must first obtain approval of their international cultural exchange program from the Attorney General.  A petition for nonimmigrant worker with the Q supplement must be filed as well..  Documentation of the program must accompany the application.

In order to gain approval, the program:

  • Must take place in a school, museum, business, or similar location where the public (or at least the interested public) can be exposed to aspects of a foreign culture as part of a structured program;
  • Must include a cultural component as an integral part of the cultural visitor’s employment/training;
  • cannot provide for employment or training independent of the cultural component.
  • The employer may also submit evidence which illustrates that 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.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding whether the Q visa is the right visa for you, please contact our experienced visa attorneys at our Los Angeles Immigration and Visa Law Office.  [LINK TO CONTACT JCS]

What are the USCIS employer requirements for a Q-1 visa?

Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs are allowed to petition for Q nonimmigrants.  The purpose of the Q nonimmigrant visa is to facilitate the sharing of international cultures. It is an employment oriented program, but an integral part of your duties must have a cultural element.  You must be at least 18 years old and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of your country.  Evidence must also be shown that the employer has designated a management level employee to administer the program and act as a liaison to the USCIS.  Employers must also meet a number of other requirements.

Employers must:

  • be engaged in the active conduct of business in the United States.
  • attest that they will pay the Q-1 visa holder the same wages it would pay a U.S. worker demonstrate that they have the financial ability to pay the offered wage and that the same working conditions comparable to U.S. workers would be provided.

What are the USCIS requirements to apply for a Q-1 Visa?

In order to be granted a Q-1 visa, an applicant must be:

  • at least 18 years old
  • qualified to perform the service of receive the type of training listed in the application;
  • able to communicate with the United States public about the cultural aspects of their home country.

What is the duration of stay in the United States on a Q-1 Visa?  Can I extend my stay or obtain another Q visa?

The Q-1 visa designation is approved either for the length of the program, or 15 months, whichever is shorter.  After you complete your Q cultural exchange program, you are afforded a 30 day grace period to depart the United States.  You are required to spend 1 year outside the United States before you can apply for participation in the Q cultural exchange program again.


Will USCIS allow me to change employers while I am in the U.S. on a Q visa?

Yes, while remaining on a Q-1 visa, you may switch employers.


Can I bring my family to the United States with me if I hold a Q-1 Visa?

While there is no derivative status for dependents of people in Q-1 status, dependents should be granted B-2 visas for the duration of the Q-1 visa holder’s stay in the U.S., up to 12 months at one time.  If your dependents are going to be studying and not working in the U.S., then they should apply for n education based visa, such as a J visa.  For more information on B visas, please read this section.  [LINK TO B VISA]  For more information on educational visas, please read more in our section here.  [LINK TO EDUCATION BASED VISAS]


Does the Q visa offer me any other USCIS approved immigration options in the United States?


Q-1 visa holders may apply for an adjustment of status (AOS) to obtain a U.S. green card once they are in the U.S. However, the Q visa is a nonimmigrant visa and you may lose your freedom to travel out of the U.S. and re-enter in valid Q visa status.   For the Q visa holder who nonetheless wishes to adjust their status, the EB-1A green card may be the best option.  The EB-1A green card requires that the applicant have extraordinary ability in their field of work.  For more information on the EB-1 green card, please read our informational section here.  [LINK TO EB-1 GC]  For more detailed information on the way in which a Q visa holder can obtain a U.S. Green Card, please read more here.  [LINK TO Q VISA TO GC]

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