Also known as the “intercultural exchange visa”, Q visas apply to individuals who will be working for a limited time in a way that promotes cultural exchange and understanding. This visa has few requirements, which means the cultural component is the most important aspect of the case. We have seen teachers, performers, and large-scale acts qualify for the Q visa. Q visas are nonimmigrant visas, meaning that at the end of its duration of status, a Q visa holder will have to depart from the United States.
Q visas are ideal for foreigners looking to participate in a foreign exchange or intercultural exchange program. Ideally, if you are applying for this sort of program, you will have to first guarantee that the program is USCIS approved. The program should be aimed at giving training and employment opportunities to foreign nationals, with the purpose of sharing the international culture, traditions, and history of the applicant’s home country.
To establish your eligibility as a qualified applicant, you must
● Be of or above the age 18;
● Have been accepted into an international exchange program;
● Have the skills and knowledge required to perform whatever services they will be expected to do, specific to your cultural heritage;
● Have the communication skills needed to relate cultural information to U.S. citizens
Your sponsoring U.S. employers must also establish their eligibility as qualified employers. They do not need to obtain any specific certifications ahead of time, but they should be ready to demonstrate that they:
● Are currently conducting business in the United States
● Have named and designated an employee to act as a liaison between the organization and the USCIS
● Can make any cultural exchange service available to the public by way of a program, performance, museum display, or school seminar, or any other venue outside of a private home property.
● Will employ the applicant to share the culture, customs, history, and heritage unique to their home country
● Will reimburse the applicant with a wage and working conditions no different than those that would be offered to a U.S. citizen for comparable work
● Are financially stable enough to pay the applicant on time and in accordance with their employment contract
The Q visa is fairly broad in its scope, though, and many programs can qualify as long as they meet the criteria listed above. A Q visa application might also have other requirements depending on the various types of programs. It is best to consult with an attorney to see if your program qualifies.
Q visas are usually issued for the duration of the contract with your employer. They can be extended up to 15 months, but after that period, they are considered maxed out and cannot be extended any further. Q visas are a little unique, though, in that visa holders are given a 30-day grace period to leave the country. If you wish to return to the United States with another Q visa, you will have to wait a full year before applying again.
If you plan to enter the United States with a Q visa, but would like to bring your spouse and children, you may do so. Spouses and children under the age of 21 should apply separately with a Q-3 visa, while you should apply with a Q-1 visa. They will have to submit their documents individually, using their own application forms and passports.