The Q visa is a temporary non immigrant visa for international cultural exchange visitors. Q visas are available to participants in international exchange programs with the purpose of providing practical training and the sharing of the history, cultural and tradition of the participant’s home country. To qualify for an international cultural exchange program, an entity such as a school, museum, business, or other establishment must actually be doing business in the United States and demonstrate all of the following criteria:

  1. Interaction with the American public or segment of the public through a structured cultural exchange program. (Private home or isolated business settings do not qualify.)
  2. Sharing of a foreign culture by offering courses or lectures that “exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, or traditions of the participant’s country.”
  3. The work the beneficiary is to perform is integral to the cultural objective and wages/working conditions are comparable to those paid to local domestic workers.

The foreign exchange visitor must be at least 18 years old and have a foreign residence to which s/he plans to return. Additionally, the beneficiary must demonstrate his/her qualifications to perform the job duties and the ability to communicate about the cultural attributes of the foreign country.

How to Apply

An international cultural exchange visitor visa is filed directly with the Immigration Service at one of its Service Centers in the United States. In support of the Q visa petition, the program and the prospective employee beneficiary must submit substantial documentation showing qualifications. When the petition is approved, the visitor may apply for a nonimmigrant Q visa at an American consulate overseas or, if the visitor is already in the United States, request a change of status.

For assistance in applying for the Q Visa please contact our office.


A Q visa allows the foreign exchange visitor to remain in the United States for up to 15 months. The beneficiary may be readmitted to the United States using Q classification after remaining outside the United States for one year. Such extensions are available for up to a total of 15 months.


There is no derivative visa for spouses or dependents of Q visa holders. If the dependents wish to work they must obtain and qualify for a separate nonimmigrant visa. If the depends wish to go to school in the U.S. then they will need to obtain a student visa.

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