Q Visas for Cultural Exchange Visitors
The Q visa category is for foreign nationals coming to the U.S. solely for the purpose of sharing the history, culture, and traditions of their home countries via an international cultural exchange. For example, a Chinese erhu instrumentalist who wishes to share the traditional techniques and styles of Chinese music would be an excellent candidate for a Q visa.
The Q visa must be filed by a U.S. employer that is administering an established international cultural exchange program. The employer must also establish three criteria:
- A designated, qualified employee to administer the program and serve as liaison with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
- The alien will enjoy wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local workers similarly employed; and
- 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.
In addition to these requirements, the employer provide evidence showing that the foreign national has the skills, expertise, experience, or training to perform the cultural exchange services.
The initial period of stay for Q visa recipients is up to 15 months. After completion of the Q visa period, the individual is given 30 days to depart the country. The alien must spend one year outside the United States prior to participating in a second Q cultural exchange program. Q visas do not allow for derivative beneficiaries. Therefore, family members who wish to accompany the Q visa holder must seek their own independent nonimmigrant visa options.