One of the nonimmigrant visas which are allowed under the United States’ Exchange Visitor programs is what is known at the Q-1 visa. This allows for people who are currently coming to the United States for either practical training, employment purposes or to “share the history, culture, and traditions of your home country.” This is similar to a J-1 visa in that both allow for vocational study, however, differs in that it is more employment based as compared to the more educational based purpose of the J-1.
The only way in which you can become eligible to come into the United States under a Q-1 visa is to be sponsored by an employer who has an approved cultural exchange program. While this is a visa that is based on employment, it is imperative that the applicant has a foundation of sharing culture. Applicants are also required to be at least 18 years of age before they are eligible to apply.
The first step in applying Q-1 is to have your sponsor fill out and file Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers with the USCIS. After, they will need to submit supporting documentation that will show that you will be taking part in an established cultural exchange program, with a qualified employee who will both administer the program and be liaison between the sponsor and USCIS.
The sponsor must also demonstrate (through documentation such as catalogs, brochures, etc.) that the program you will be taking place in will have allow for you to share the culture and traditions of your home country with the American public through direct interaction, such as a public setting (ex: museum, school, etc.). Finally, it must be proven that you will employed with wages comparable to domestic workers and that the sponsor has the funds to be able to adequately pay for you during the duration of your stay.
If you are granted access into the United States under the Q-1 visa, you will only be allowed to stay up to 15 months. After the visa has expired, you will only have 30 days during which you will need to return to your home country. You will need to stay home for a minimum of a year before you will be allowed to petition for a Q-1 visa once more. There is no section of the Q nonimmigrant visa which allows for spouses and children to accompany the Q visa holder to the United States.
If you are interested in applying for a Q-1 visa or any other form of visa under the Exchange Visitor programs, then it is highly important that you get the involvement of an experienced immigration attorney. By working with a knowledgeable lawyer, you will be able to walk through the application process to ensure that you are being correctly sponsored and that all paperwork and documents are filed correctly on your part.
With immigration procedures, it is vastly important that everything is done in a timely manner and we will be able to help ensure that you do not miss any deadlines and are able to complete everything on time. At Pozo Goldstein, LLP, we know the importance of achieving a visa for work or cultural exchange and will be able to step up to help you through this process. By working with our firm, you can rest assured knowing that you will have former U.S. immigration prosecutors on your side.