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One of the non-immigrant visas that the United States grants is the Q visa category. This visa was created especially for foreigners who participate in cultural exchange programs between the USA and other countries.

The purpose of this visa is to allow people to be trained from a practical and professional point of view. It pursues the cultural exchange of traditions and history of the country where the visa applicant is native.

If you need to process a Q visa for you and your family or require assistance in any other immigration matter, call us. Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers are visa specialists for the United States. Contact us and we can help you.

What is the Q visa?

The Q visa is issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Unlike the J-1 visa, a visa for exchange visitors. To qualify, in addition to meeting the application requirements, the program must fulfill the purpose of the visa.

In other words, offer practical training and employment to the foreigner who requests it. At the same time, it must promote the exchange of culture, history and folklore. The Q visa seeks to facilitate the exchange of ideas and cultures between the United States and citizens of other countries.

Q1 visa

The Q-1 visa is known as the indicated visa for those who participate in an international cultural exchange program. Their holders generally belong to recognized organizations that have signed a cultural exchange program with US companies.

With a Q-1 visa, foreigners can visit the United States on the occasion of a cultural agreement between private organizations. Although it can also be among non-governmental non-profit organizations that seek to strengthen culture.

One of the main objectives of the visa program is to familiarize the foreigner with the American culture. On the other hand, that the United States also benefits from this cultural approach and exchange with the participant.

While in the US, the Q visa holder participates in a hands-on training program. The aim is to improve his artistic skills and become familiar with American culture. But also that they share their traditions (art, gastronomy, language, thought, religion and so o.) with American residents.

Differences between a Q-1 and a J-1 visa

Both visas serve for cultural exchange between the United States and other countries. However, there are two basic differences between them. Let’s see:

This in no way means that both government agencies run the exchange programs. It only means that each agency is in charge of processing a different type of visa (Q-1 or J-1).

For Q-1 visas there is no annual limit. So if the applicant meets the requirements, the probability of being granted is high.

It is important to clarify that the Q-1 visa is not related to the Q-2 visa, which belongs to the Walsh Program. The Q-2 visa allows residents of Ireland and Northern Ireland to train and work in the United States.

It is known as the Training Program and the Cultural Process of Peace in Ireland. It offers a 36-month period of stay in the USA and about 4,000 are awarded annually.

Requirements to apply for the Q-1 visa

The applicant and the sponsoring organization must meet certain application requirements. These requirements include:

  • To be 18 years old or more.
  • Being a cultivator with enough knowledge and skills. The person must demonstrate aptitude for the exchange of ideas, culture and traditions of their country of origin.
  • Commit to return to the country of origin upon completion of the exchange program.

As the sponsoring organization that employs the applicant, it must complete the following:

  • Have a legally registered business in the United States.
  • Have an international cultural exchange program as part of the company’s objectives.
  • Designate a representative to serve as the liaison between the company and USCIS.
  • Employ the participant of the cultural exchange in the company with the purpose of sharing their culture.
  • Organize events that facilitate the guest’s participation in cultural exchanges.
  • Offer salary compensation to the visa holder similar to that of any other American worker in that job.
  • Offer the participant adequate and safe working conditions.

Note. The aforementioned requirements must be compatible with all consigned documents. Both (employer / sponsor and participant) must strictly meet each of the requirements to qualify for the visa program.

How do I apply for the Q-1 visa?

Perhaps the application process for a Q-1 visa can be a little more complicated than any other visa. This is because it is necessary to have a sponsor and / or employer. As is the case with H-1B work visas.

The procedure for applying for the Q-1 visa is initiated by the sponsor (employer) in the United States. Previously, the employer must obtain a permit from the USCIS. After the sponsorship request is approved, the applicant can start the process.

The steps to apply for the Q-1 visa are these:

  1. Submit the authorization request to USCIS, through form I-129, Petition for non-immigrant worker. Pay the non-refundable fee of $ 460 for the right to submit the form. Then the sponsor will receive the confirmation and a receipt. Such proofs must be presented later by the visa applicant on the day of the interview.
  2. The applicant for the Q-1 visa must complete and send the DS-160 form to the embassy.
  3. Pay the visa application fee, which is $ 190.
  4. Schedule the interview with the consular officer at the embassy.
  5. Submit the required documents on the website of the US Consulate or Embassy.
  6. Attend the interview.

What other documents must the sponsor submit?

USCIS will likely require additional supporting documents. The sponsor must demonstrate that they can handle the applicant for the Q-1 visa. For example:

  • Evidence that the sponsor has an international cultural exchange program. You can provide brochures, catalogs and any other test documents.
  • Evidence of the sponsor’s financial ability and stability to bear the expenses of the Q-1 visa holder. You can provide a copy of financial statements, proof of payment of taxes and others.
  • Synopsis of the exchange program, which describes the activities, events and their objectives. It is important to mention the role of the participant in said program.
  • Prove that the participant is eligible to be part of the exchange program. This includes your personal data (age, education and any other information that you consider necessary.

After these documents are filed with USCIS, the agency files them. It will then notify the sponsor if it has approved or rejected the request. If approved, USCIS sends Form I-797, Notice of Action , to the sponsor and participant .

Documents to be submitted by the Q-1 visa applicant

  • Valid passport for at least six months after the end of the program.
  • Passport photography.
  • Copy of Form I-797 sent by USCIS to the applicant and the sponsor.
  • DS-160 code and confirmation page.
  • Receipt of payment of the visa application fee.
  • Documents that prove the applicant’s work experience and educational level.

How long does it take to process a Q-1 visa?

Processing times may vary by embassy. Sometimes it can be as little as 15 days and sometimes it can take up to three months. It all depends on the number of visa applications that the US embassy has in the country.

When the application has been processed, the embassy sends the passport with the visa to the applicant’s address.

How long does the Q-1 cultural visa last?

Generally, the validity time of the visa will depend on the duration of the cultural international exchange program. If the program lasts for one year, then the Q-1 visa will last for one year.

If the visa time is less than the duration of the program, you can request a visa extension. For example, when the visa is for 9 months if USCIS approves the extension, another six months will be granted. The visa extension is approved for up to 15 months in total maximum.

At the end of the validity of the visa, the beneficiary must return to their country of origin. To return to the US, he must wait a minimum of one year before submitting a new application.

Is it possible to obtain American residency with a Q-1 visa?

No. The Q-1 visa does not open a direct path to obtain the Green Card. However, with the help of an experienced immigration attorney you will be able to check your options. The quickest ways to get a green card is:

Our Lluis Law immigration attorneys can help you with any of your immigration related issues. Whether you want to apply for a Q-1 visa or need to fill out form I-130 to apply for American residency. 

We have over 40 years of immigration experience in the Los Angeles area.