Q-1 Visa: International Cultural Exchange

The Q visa is for international exchange programs. The J-1 visa is also for cultural exchange programs, however, the J-1 is for programs designated by the U.S. Department of State, whereas the Q-1 is for programs designated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In order to be eligible for a Q-1 visa, you must have a sponsoring employer that administers a qualifying program. The program must be for the purpose of sharing the history, culture, and traditions of your home country, and it must take place in a school, museum, business, or similar establishment.  Additionally, the program must provide practical training and employment. You must be at least 18 years old and able to communicate about the cultural aspects of your country.

The sponsoring employer must also meet certain requirements. Your employer must show:  (1) there is a qualified employee designated to administer the program and serve as liaison with USCIS, (2) the Q-1 exchange visitor(s) will work for wages and under conditions comparable to those of U.S. workers, (3) the employer has the financial ability to pay the Q-1 visitor(s).

The Q-1 visa is limited to 15 months. After completion of 15 months on a Q-1 visa, the foreign national must leave the U.S. for at least one year before returning.