Q-1 Visa Requirements and Checklist
The Q-1 classification applies to aliens temporarily visiting the United States as participants in an international cultural exchange visitors program. The program provides practical training and employment to the participant. At the same time, it must share the history, culture, and traditions of his or her country with the public. Participants must be employed under the same wages and conditions as domestic workers.
The employer must provide a complete description of participants’ anticipated duties, which reveals how the duties are related to the program’s cultural component.
Also, an itinerary must be provided if duties will be performed at more than one location.
Instead of employment, the employer can alternatively provide a complete description of the training to be received by participants. Explanations should reveal how the training is related to the program’s cultural component. Also, an itinerary must be provided if training will be performed at more than one location.
The employer must provide an explanation of the cultural exchange program, which must have the following features:
- accessibility to the public;
- a cultural component; and
- a work component.
Accessibility to the Public. The structured program must be held in a place where the American public is exposed to aspects of a foreign culture. At a minimum, the program must be accessible to a segment of the public which shares a common cultural interest. It may be held in a school, museum, business, or other establishment. Activities taking place in a private home or isolated business settings will not qualify if there is no public access. Evidence that may be submitted to satisfy this requirement includes, but is not limited to:
- An itinerary or schedule of the program activities.
- A detailed statement explaining how the activities are made available to the general public.
- Evidence of your sponsorship of activities occurring within the local community.
Cultural Component. This component must exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, or traditions of the participants’ country of nationality. A cultural component may include qualified, structured instructional activities such as seminars, courses, lecture series, or language camps. Evidence that may be submitted to satisfy this requirement includes, but is not limited to:
- A brochure for the lecture, language camp, or other program events.
- Outlines or summaries of objectives for program courses.
- Evidence of a website for your program.
Work Component. A participant’s employment or training in the United States may not be independent of the cultural component of the program. It is the method by which the cultural component is delivered.
Participants must be eligible for program participation at the time you file Form I-129. To be eligible for Q-1 nonimmigrant classification, participants must:
- meet the age requirement;
- be qualified to perform the necessary duties;
- have the ability to communicate effectively; and
- have been outside the United States for the immediate prior year (if in the U.S. previously on Q-1 visa).
Performance Qualifications. Participants must be qualified to perform the service or labor, or receive the type of training, stated in the petition. Evidence that may be submitted to satisfy this requirement includes, but is not limited to:
- Copies of certificates of completion or transcripts showing the beneficiaries’ participation in events or classes relevant to the program.
- Evidence of participants’ work experience which is relevant to the program. This may include work products created by the participants or previous employers’ attestations.
Communication Qualifications. Participants must be able to effectively communicate the cultural attributes of their countries of nationality to the American public. Evidence of participants’ ability to communicate in English may include evidence of having taken English language courses or exams. Evidence to show ability to communicate cultural attributes of their countries of nationality may include but are not limited to:
- Evidence of participants’ previous public speaking engagements, such as brochures highlighting them as speakers.
- Evidence of skills necessary to competently communicate non-verbal cultural attributes related to the program. This may include copies of certificates of completion, transcripts, or brochures demonstrating participants’ skills.
Requirement to be Outside the United States. Participants must have resided and been
physically outside the United States for the immediate prior year. This requirement must be met only if participants have previously been admitted as Q-1 cultural exchange visitors. Evidence that may be submitted to satisfy this requirement includes, but is not limited to: Copies of participants’ passport stamps.
You must offer participants wage and working conditions comparable to similarly employed domestic workers. Evidence that may be submitted to satisfy this requirement includes, but is not limited to:
- Copies of contractual agreements (or a summary of the oral agreement) between your organization and the participant.
- Evidence from the U.S. Department of Labor (such as through the Occupational Outlook Handbook) or other credible source which indicates that wages are appropriate.
You must have the financial ability to compensate participants. Evidence that may be submitted to satisfy this requirement includes, but is not limited to:
- Your organization’s most recent federal income tax returns, along with all schedules and attachments. At least two or three years of records are most helpful.
- Your organization’s most recent annual reports or audited financial statements.
- Contracts signed between participants and your organization or your agents. The contract should establish the pay and terms of the intended period of employment.
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