The International cultural exchange programs under Q-1 classification are intended to provide practical training or employment, in the United States to foreigners who will, during the course of their programs, share with the U.S. public the history, culture, and traditions of their home countries. Commonly known as the Disney Visa, this visa option is available for institutional-like programs that can provide a public experience about a country, nation, or foreign ethnic culture.
To qualify, the cultural exchange must take place in a school, museum, business, or other establishment where the American public, or segment of the public sharing a common cultural interest, is exposed to aspects of a foreign culture in a structured program. Program must have a cultural component that is an essential and integral part of the international cultural exchange visitor’s employment or training. The cultural component of the program must be designed to exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, or traditions of the international cultural exchange visitor’s country of nationality. The employment and/or training component of the program may not be independent of the cultural component of the program and must be the vehicle used to achieve the objectives of the cultural component of the program.
In order for a U.S. employer to qualify, they must be actively conducting business in the U.S., and must maintain an established international cultural exchange program. As well, a potential U.S. employer must offer Q-1 visa holder’s wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local domestic U.S. workers similarly employed as well as demonstrate that it has the financial ability to pay the program participants.
For an individual person to be able to qualify to travel on a Q-1 Visa, they must meet the following criteria:
- be at least 18 years old at the time the petition is filed and intend to leave the U.S. upon conclusion of their participation.
- Be qualified for the employment or training stated in the petition; and
- be capable of communicating effectively about the culture of their country of nationality to the US public.
- Have resided and been physically present outside of the United States for the immediate prior year, if they were previously admitted as an international cultural exchange visitor.
- Q-1 aliens maintain lawful status in the U.S. only while engaged in the approved training and/or employment.
Once a Q-1 petition is approved, the duration of the stay the amount of time needed for the approved program or 15 months, whichever is shorter. The total period of time that a Q-1 foreigner may stay in the United States may not be extended beyond 15 months, although a previous Q-1 beneficiary may participate in another international cultural exchange program if he/she has resided and been physically present outside the U.S. for at least one-year (exclusive of any brief U.S. visits).