By: Tigran Kirakosyan
The Immigration Act of 1990 established the Q-1 nonimmigrant visa. This cultural exchange visa is designed to allow foreign nationals to share their country’s history, culture, language and traditions with Americans. Employers may to apply for a Q-1 visa for certain eligible employees.
The Purpose of the Q-1 Visa
Congress created the Q-1 visa so that people who know their country’s culture can introduce it to the American public. The Q-1 visa allows visa holders to temporarily work in language centers, amusement parks, museums, historical centers, and other work locations.
How Employers Apply for Q-1 Visas
Employers must petition US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to obtain Q-1 visas for foreign employees.
Employers must demonstrate that:
They actively do business in the US
They have a cultural exchange project for the requested stay period
They can finance the project
Employee’s working conditions and wages are like domestic employees
The supervisor manages the employee directly
A work location is open to the American public
Employee’s main responsibility is to present their country’s culture
Under the Q-1 visa, foreign employees can remain in the US for 15 months. They must leave the US at the end of that period, unless their employer petitions USCIS to move them to a new project.
Employee Eligibility for Q-1 Visas
To be eligible for a Q-1 visa, foreign nationals must meet all the following criteria:
Be at least 18 years old
Have foreign residence with no intention to abandon it
Be able to effectively communicate their country’s culture to the American public
Continually work on the cultural exchange project throughout their stay in the US
Q-1 visa holders can apply for a change of status and remain in the US on a different visa after their project is complete. If they leave the US instead, these employees must spend a year outside the country before they can re-enter on a new Q-1 visa.
Q-1 visas are a little-known sponsorship option for cultural exchange positions. Contact our experienced team of attorneys for help filing a Q-1 visa, or any related questions.