The Q visa is available for participants of international cultural exchange programs who wish to visit the United States under an approved purpose. Q-1 visas are for cultural exchange participants; Q-2 visas are specifically for residents of Ireland and Northern Ireland to receive training in the US. Purposes that qualify Q-1 applicants include employment, practical training, or sharing their home country’s traditions, culture, or history with the United States.
While the Attorney General approves qualifying purposes for the Q-1 visa, both Q visa designations are administered by the State Department. The program that oversees the Q-2 visa designation is named the Walsh Program, after Congressman James Walsh who established the program and sought to promote peace in Ireland during the 1990s.
Multiple Applicant Petitions
One petition for a Q visa can be used for multiple applicants if the applicant group meets certain criteria. Applicants in this group must apply for visas through the same consulate. Applicants who do not need visas must enter the U.S. at the same port of entry.
Q-1 Petition Requirements
Companies may file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to petition employees for Q-1 visas. If the company is not based in the United States, the petition must be signed by an American permanent resident who is also a full-time employee at the company with a supervisory role. The petition must also include:
Evidence (such as brochures or other informational material) that the employer supports an international cultural exchange program that is well-established
Proof that the applicant’s purpose is to provide a view of their home country’s culture, including history, philosophy, traditions, and/or heritage in a public setting that encourages cultural exchange and interaction
Indication of a supervisory company employee who will act as a liaison to the INS
Proof of fair and decent working conditions, including appropriate compensation
Financial documents that prove the company is able to pay the employee appropriate compensation
Q Visa Application Process
After an employer has filed the Form I-129 with the above documentation, the visa applicant must attend an interview at their local U.S. embassy or consulate. The purpose of this visa interview is to ascertain the purpose and length of the applicant’s desired stay inside the United States, as well as to determine that the applicant is planning on departing the United States and not using a temporary visa to stay permanently. Individuals can increase their chances of a successful application by providing compelling evidence of their intent to return to their home country, such as property or employment details that require them to return. Applicants will also be required to undergo a biometrics appointment and provide digital fingerprint scans; these may be conducted on the same visit as the interview, but this varies by embassy and consulate.
After this step, the employer and the applicant will be provided with a written notice of decision on their visa’s acceptance or denial. It is important to remember that a notice of acceptance for a visa does not necessarily guarantee entry to the United States; circumstances may arise that close ports of entry, such as natural disasters or pandemics. It is recommended to wait to make nonrefundable travel arrangements until an individual has physically received their visa.
Q visas are valid for up to 15 months. After the Q visa has expired, visa holders must depart the United States within 30 days. Visa holders are not able to file for extensions of stay; they must spend at least one full year outside the United States before they can file another application.
Get Help With Visa Applications
Visa applications can be confusing and lengthy, particularly for first-timers. If you are seeking a Q visa for yourself, or are seeking to sponsor an individual from outside the United States, call the Law Offices of Kermit Monge. Our experienced team can help you navigate the visa application process smoothly. Contact the Law Offices of Kermit Monge today by phone 703.273.5500 or requesting a consultation online.