There are two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons who want to participate in Exchange Visitor programs in the United States. The J nonimmigrant visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Q nonimmigrant visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by USCIS. For more information on Exchange Visitors, see the “Department of State: Exchange Visitor (J) Visas” page.
You may be eligible for a Q-1 nonimmigrant visa if you are seeking to participate in an international cultural exchange program. The Q nonimmigrant exchange program is for the purpose of providing practical training and employment, and to share the history, culture, and traditions of your home country with the United States.
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.
Your sponsoring organization must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the USCIS office specified in the form instructions. In addition, the employer must submit evidence that the employer maintains an established international cultural exchange program. This may be demonstrated by submitting copies of catalogs, brochures or other types of material which 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 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.
In addition, the employer must establish that:
- It has designated a qualified employee to administer the program and serve as liaison with USCIS
- It will offer the alien wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local workers similarly employed
- It 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
Period of Stay/Extension of Stay
Initial Period of Stay
Up to 15 months
After you complete your Q cultural exchange program, you are afforded 30 days 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.
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. Therefore, any spouse or children must qualify for a visa classification for which they may be eligible.