Q Visa for Cultural Exchange Visitors to the U.S.

What is the Q visa and who qualifies?

The Q-1 Visa was designed to allow foreign individuals to enter the United States to take part in an established international cultural exchange program. The exchange program must be one to provide practical training, employment and sharing of the individual's native culture, history and traditions with people in the United States.


What are the requirements to obtain a Q visa?

In order to qualify for a Q-1 visa, you must:

  • have reached age 18 before applying;
  • have gained acceptance to an international cultural exchange program;
  • possess the education and training necessary to perform the services that will be expected of you, including cultural component; and,
  • be able to communicate your native culture to people of the U.S.

If you are unsure whether you may qualify for a Q cultural exchange visa, contact our immigration lawyers now for your free consultation.


P-3 visa


What are the requirements of the employer to petition for a Q visa?

The Q nonimmigrant visa was created to allow for the sharing and appreciation of different international cultures in the United States. Although there is a very strong educational aspect associated with the cultural exchange visa, the Q visa is an employment visa. The Q visa applicants are usually individuals who will work at a position that has a strong cultural element and will be able to communicate about the cultural element while in the United States. It is important to note that cultural exchange programs must be administered by employers who petition for Q nonimmigrants. A designated a management level employee should be employed by the petitioning employer to administer the cultural exchange 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.


Cultural Exchange Program


How long can I stay in the U.S. on a Q-1 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.




Can I bring my family members to the United States with me if I hold a Q 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 Exchange Visitors.

Read our section on B-1 or B-2 visitor visas here for more information for tourists.




Can I apply for a Green Card if I entered the U.S. on a Q Visa?

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. If the Q visa holder finds someone to marry while living in the United States, he or she may file for a Green Card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

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. Contact our Los Angeles immigration attorney for a free consultation now.

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