Cultural Exchange (Q) Visa

The Q-1 visa is for participation in certain international cultural exchange programs. These programs are designed to provide practical training and employment and allow program participants to share the history, culture, and traditions of their home countries in the United States.

A person who wants to participate in an international cultural exchange program must be approved in advance by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the basis of a petition filed by the U.S. sponsor.Only employers who administer cultural exchange programs may petition for Q nonimmigrants. It is an employment-oriented program, but an integral part of your duties must have a cultural element. You must be at least 18 years old; be qualified to perform the service, labor or training; and be able to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of your country. The total period of your stay in the United States cannot exceed 15 months.

I. Procedures for applying for a Q-1 Visa:

  • Step 1: File Form I-129 Petition with USCIS
    • The U.S. sponsor must complete and file Form I-129 with USCIS;
    • Pay the filing fee;
    • Provide all required evidence and supporting documentation
  • Step 2: Apply for a Q-1 Visa at the Consulate based on approved I-129 Petition in the form of I-797 Notice of Action

II. Documents required for an I-129 Petition for Q-1 Visa with the USCIS:

  1. Evidence you have maintained an established international cultural exchange program
  2. Evidence you have designated a qualified employee to administer the program and serve as a liaison with USCIS
  3. Evidence you are actively doing business in the United States
  4. Evidence you are offering the beneficiary wages and working conditions comparable to those given to local domestic workers who work in similar jobs
  5. Evidence you have the financial ability to pay the participants
  6. Catalogs, brochures, curriculum, or other evidence describing the program
  7. Date of birth, country of nationality, level of education, position title, and job description for each participant

III. Documents required for a Q-1 Visa at the U.S. Consulate:

  1. Valid Passport: Applicant’s passport must be valid for at least six months beyond his/her period of stay in the U.S.
  2. Form DS-160 Confirmation Page
  3. Application fee payment receipt
  4. Photo – Applicant will be required upload photo while completing the online Form DS-160; if uploading photo failed, Applicant will be required submit one printed photo to the U.S. embassy or consulate during the interview.
    • Applicant’s photos or digital images must be:
      • In color
      • Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (22 mm and 35 mm) or 50% and 69% of the image’s total height from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
      • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
      • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
      • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
      • With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
      • Taken in clothing that you normally wear on a daily basis
      • Uniforms should not be worn in your photo, except religious clothing that is worn daily.
      • Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face.
      • Headphones, wireless hands-free devices, or similar items are not acceptable in your photo.
      • Eyeglasses are no longer allowed in new visa photos, except in rare circumstances when eyeglasses cannot be removed for medical reasons; e.g., the applicant has recently had ocular surgery and the eyeglasses are necessary to protect the applicant’s eyes. A medical statement signed by a medical professional/health practitioner must be provided in these cases. If the eyeglasses are accepted for medical reasons:
        • The frames of the eyeglasses must not cover the eye(s).
        • There must not be glare on eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).
        • There must not be shadows or refraction from the eyeglasses that obscures the eye(s).
      • If you normally wear a hearing device or similar articles, they may be worn in your photo.
  5. Form I-797, Notice of Application for USCIS indicating approval of Form I-129