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There are two types of Cultural Exchange Visitors. The J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa Program is administered by the U.S. State Department. The Q-1 Cultural Exchange Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Service. Each program has distinct requirements and duration.

J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors

The J-1 visa is designed to provide educational and cultural exchange and to promote the cross-cultural sharing of knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences.
J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitor is someone intends to participate in a U.S. Department of State approved cultural exchange program for the purpose of teaching, instruction or lecture, study, observation, research, consulting, or to receive graduate medical education or training. 

In order to qualify for a J-1 visa, a foreign national exchange visitor must first be sponsored by an Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor that has been approved by the U.S. State Department. The length of time an individual can be in the United States on J-1 status varies according to the specific J-1 category.

Many J-1 visas carry a strict requirement that the J-1 Visitor return to their home country for a period of 2 years at the conclusion of the J-1 program and prior to their return to the United States in any other immigrant or non-immigrant status.

Spouses and children of J-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors may be eligible to reside in the United States in J-2 status. Spouses in J-2 status are eligible to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) in order to work in the United States. Children on J-2 status are eligible to attend school in the United States.

Q-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors

The Q-1 nonimmigrant classification is designed for U.S. businesses, schools and other organizations to bring citizens and nationals of foreign countries to the United States for a temporary period of time specifically for the purpose of foreign exchange and in order to transmit the foreign national’s culture to the American public through the performance of his or her job duties.
An individual may be in the United States in Q-1 status for a maximum period of 15 months.

The Q-1 visa and status does not carry any benefits for dependent spouses or children. Therefore, any spouse or child of an individual on Q-1 must apply for their own visa or status separate from their Q-1 relative.

For more information on cultural exchange visitor visas and status, please contact Kolko & Casey, P.C. for a consultation.

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.