Q Visa Law

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Sec. 214.2(q)  Cultural Visitors


  (1) (i) International cultural exchange visitors program . Paragraphs (q)(2) through (q)(11) of this section provide the rules governing nonimmigrant aliens who are visiting the United States temporarily in an international cultural exchange visitors program (Q-1). (Added 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )  
(ii) Irish peace process cultural and training program. Paragraph (q)(15) of this section provides the rules governing nonimmigrant aliens who are visiting the United States temporarily under the Irish peace process cultural and training program (Q-2) and their dependents (Q-3). (Added 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iii) Definitions. As used in this section: (Redesignated 3/17/00 as paragraph (q)(1)(iii), previously paragraph (q)(1)(i); 65 FR 14774

  Country of nationality means the country of which the participant was a national at the time of the petition seeking international cultural exchange visitor status for him or her.

  Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services (including lectures, seminars and other types of cultural programs) by a qualified employer which has employees, and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying employer.

  Duration of program means the time in which a qualified employer is conducting an approved international cultural exchange program in the manner as established by the employer's petition for program approval, provided that the period of time does not exceed 15 months. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

  International cultural exchange visitor means an alien who has a residence in a foreign country which he or she has no intention of abandoning, and who is coming temporarily to the United States to take part in an international cultural exchange program approved by the Attorney General. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

  Petitioner means the employer or its designated agent who has been employed by the qualified employer on a permanent basis in an executive or managerial capacity. The designated agent must be a United States citizen, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or an alien provided temporary residence status under sections 210 or 245A of the Act.

  Qualified employer means a United States or foreign firm, corporation, non-profit organization, or other legal entity (including its U.S. branches, subsidiaries, affiliates, and franchises) which administers an international cultural exchange program designated by the Attorney General in accordance with the provisions of section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(2) Admission of international cultural exchange visitor -- (Revised paragraph heading 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(i) General. A nonimmigrant alien may be authorized to enter the United States as a participant in an international cultural exchange program approved by the Attorney General for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the country of the alien's nationality. The period of admission is the duration of the approved international cultural exchange program or fifteen (15) months, whichever is shorter. A nonimmigrant alien admitted under this p rovision is classifiable as an international cultural exchange visitor in Q-1 status. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(ii) Limitation on admission. Any alien who has been admitted into the United States as an international cultural exchange visitor under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act shall not be readmitted in Q-1 status unless the alien has resided and been physically present outside the United States for the immediate prior year. Brief trips to the United States for pleasure or business during the immediate prior year do not break the continuity of the one-year foreign residency. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(3) International cultural exchange program. -- (i) General . A United States employer shall petition the Attorney General on Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for approval of an international cultural exchange program which is designed to provide an opportunity for the American public to learn about foreign cultures. The United States employer must simultaneously petition on the same Form I-129 for the authorization for one or more individually identified nonimmigrant aliens to be admitted in Q-1 status. These aliens are to be admitted to engage in employment or training of which the essential element is the sharing with the American public, or a segment of the public sharing a common cultural interest, of the culture of the alien's country of nationality. The international cultural exchange visitor's eligibility for admission will be considered only if the international cultural exchange program is approved. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(ii) Program validity. Each petition for an international cultural exchange program will be approved for the duration of the program, which may not exceed 15 months, plus 30 days to allow time for the participants to make travel arrangements. Subsequent to the approval of the initial petition, a new petition must be filed each time the qualified employer wishes to bring in additional cultural visitors. A qualified employer may replace or substitute a participant named on a previously approved petition for the remainder of the program in accordance with paragraph (q)(6) of this section. The replacement or substituting alien may be admitted in Q-1 status until the expiration date of the approved petition. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iii) Requirements for program approval . An international cultural exchange program must meet all of the following requirements:

(A) Accessibility to the public. The international cultural exchange program must take place in a school, museum, business or other establishment where the American public, or a segment of the public sharing a common cultural interest, is exposed to aspects of a foreign culture as part of a structured program. Activities that take place in a private home or an isolated business setting to which the American public, or a segment of the public sharing a common cultural interest, does not have direct access do not qualify.

(B) Cultural component. The international cultural exchange program must have a cultural component which is an essential and integral part of the international cultural exchange visitor's employment or training. The cultural component must be designed, on the whole, to exhibit or explain the attitude, customs, history, heritage, philosophy, or traditions of the international cultural exchange visitor's country of nationality. A cultural component may include structured instructional activities such as seminars, courses, lectur e series, or language camps. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(C) Work component . The international cultural exchange visitor's employment or training in the United States may not be independent of the cultural component of the international cultural exchange program. The work component must serve as the vehicle to achieve the objectives of the cultural component. The sharing of the culture of the international cultural exchange visitor's country of nationality must result from his or her employment or training with the qualified employer in the United States. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iv) Requirements for international cultural exchange visitors . To be eligible for international cultural exchange visitor status, an alien must be a bona fide nonimmigrant who: (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(A) Is at least 18 years of age at the time the petition is filed;

(B) Is qualified to perform the service or labor or receive the type of training stated in the petition;

(C) Has the ability to communicate effectively about the cultural attributes of his or her country of nationality to the American public; and

(D) Has resided and been physically present outside of the United States for the immediate prior year, if he or she was previously admitted as an international cultural exchange visitor. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(4) Supporting documentation -- (i) Documentation by the employer . To establish eligibility as a qualified employer, the petitioner must submit with the completed Form I-129 appropriate evidence that the employer:

(A) Maintains an established international cultural exchange program in accordance with the requirements set forth in paragraph (q)(3) of this section;

(B) Has designated a qualified employee as a representative who will be responsible for administering the international cultural exchange program and who will serve as liaison with the Immigration and Naturalization Service;

(C) Is actively doing business in the United States;

(D) Will offer the alien(s) wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded local domestic workers similarly employed; and

(E) Has the financial ability to remunerate the participant(s).

(ii) Certification by petitioner . (A) The petitioner must give the date of birth, country of nationality, level of education, position title, and a brief job description for each international cultural exchange visitor included in the petition. The petitioner must verify and certify that the prospective participants are qualified to perform the service or labor, or receive the type of training, described in the petition. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(B) The petitioner must report the international cultural exchange visitors' wages and certify that such cultural exchange visitors are offered wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded to local domestic workers similarly employed. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iii) Supporting documentation as prescribed in paragraphs (q)(4)(i) and (q)(4)(ii) of this section must accompany a petition filed on Form I-129 in all cases except where the employer files multiple petitions in the same calendar year. When petitioning to repeat a previously approved international cultural exchange program, a copy of the initial program approval notice may be submitted in lieu of the documentation required under paragraph (q)(4)(i) of this section. The Service will request additional documentation only when clarification is needed. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(5) Filing of petitions for international cultural exchange visitor program -- (i) General . A United States employer seeking to bring in international cultural exchange visitors must file a petition on Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the applicable fee, along with appropriate documentation. The petition and accompanying documentation should be filed with either the service center having jurisdiction over the employer's headquarters or the service center having jurisdiction over the area where the international cultural exchange visitors will perform services or labor or wi ll receive training. A new petition on Form I-129, with the applicable fee, must be filed with the appropriate service center each time a qualified employer wants to bring in additional international cultural exchange visitors. Each person named on an approved petition will be admitted only for the duration of the approved program. Replacement or substitution may be made for any person named on an approved petition as provided in paragraph (q)(6) of this section, but only for the remainder of the approved program. (Paragraph amended and heading revised 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(ii) Petition for multiple participants . The petitioner may include more than one participant on the petition. The petitioner shall include the name, date of birth, nationality, and other identifying information required on the petition for each participant. The petitioner must also indicate the United States consulate at which each participant will apply for a Q-1 visa. For participants who are visa-exempt under 8 CFR 212.1(a) , the petitioner must indicate the port of entry at which each participant will apply for admission to the United States. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iii) Service, labor, or training in more than one location . A petition which requires the international cultural exchange visitor to engage in employment or training (with the same employer) in more than one location must include an itinerary with the dates and locations of the services, labor, or training. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iv) Services, labor, or training for more than one employer . If the international cultural exchange visitor will perform services or labor for, or receive training from, more than one employer, each employer must file a separate petition with the service center having jurisdiction over the area where the alien will perform services or labor, or receive training. The international cultural exchange visitor may work part-time for multiple employers provided that each employer has an approved petition for the alien. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(v) Change of employers. If an international cultural exchange visitor is in the United States under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act and decides to change employers, the new employer must file a petition. However, the total period of time the international cultural exchange visitor may stay in the United States remains limited to fifteen (15) months. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(6) Substitution or replacements of participants in an international cultural exchange visitor program . The petitioner may substitute for or replace a person named on a previously approved petition for the remainder of the program without filing a new Form I-129. The substituting international cultural exchange visitor must meet the qualification requirements prescribed in paragraph (q)(3)(iv) of this section. To request substitution or replacement, the petitioner shall, by letter, notify the consular office at which the alien will apply for a visa or, in the case of visa-exempt aliens, the Service office at the port of entry where the alien will apply for admission. A copy of the petition's approval notice must be included with the letter. The petitioner must state the date of birth, country of nationality, level of education, and position title of each prospective international cultural exchange visitor and must certify that each is qualified to perform the service or labor or receive the type of training described in the approved petition. The petitioner must also indicate each international cultural exchange visitor's wages and certify that the international cultural exchange visitor is offered wages and working conditions comparable to those accorded to local domestic workers in accordance with paragraph (q)(11)(ii) of this section. (Paragraph amended and heading revised 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(7) Approval of petition for international cultural exchange visitor program -- (i) The director shall consider all the evidence submitted and request other evidence as he or she may deem necessary. (Paragraph heading revised 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(ii) The director shall notify the petitioner and the appropriate United States consulate(s) of the approval of a petition. For participants who are visa-exempt under 8 CFR 212.1(a) , the director shall give notice of the approval to the director of the port of entry at which each such participant will apply for admission to the United States. The notice of approval shall include the name of the international cultural exchange visitors, their classification, and the petition's period of validity. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iii) An approved petition for an alien classified under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act is valid for the length of the approved program or fifteen (15) months, whichever is shorter. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(iv) A petition shall not be approved for an alien who has an aggregate of fifteen (15) months in the United States under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act, unless the alien has resided and been physically present outside the United States for the immediate prior year. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(8) Denial of the petition -- (i) Notice of denial. The petitioner shall be notified of the denial of a petition, the reasons for the denial, and the right to appeal the denial under part 103 of this chapter.

(ii) Multiple participants . A petition for multiple international cultural exchange visitors may be denied in whole or in part. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

(9) Revocation of approval of petition -- (i) General. The petitioner shall immediately notify the appropriate Service center of any changes in the employment of a participant which would affect eligibility under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act. (Revised 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

  (ii) Automatic revocation. The approval of any petition is automatically revoked if the qualifying employer goes out of business, files a written withdrawal of the petition, or terminates the approved international cultural exchange program prior to its expiration date. No further action or notice by the Service is necessary in the case of automatic revocation. In any other case, the Service shall follow the revocation procedures in paragraphs (q)(9) (iii) through (v) of this section. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774 )

  (iii) Revocation on notice. The director shall send the petitioner a notice of intent to revoke the petition in whole or in part if he or she finds that:

(A) The international cultural exchange visitor is no longer employed by the petitioner in the capacity specified in the petition, or if the international cultural exchange visitor is no longer receiving training as specified in the petition; (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(B) The statement of facts contained in the petition was not true and correct;

(C) The petitioner violated the terms and conditions of the approved petition; or

(D) The Service approved the petition in error.

(iv) Notice and decision . The notice of intent to revoke shall contain a detailed statement of the grounds for the revocation and the period of time allowed for the petitioner's rebuttal. The petitioner may submit evidence in rebuttal within 30 days of receipt of the notice. The director shall consider all relevant evidence presented in deciding whether to revoke the petition in whole or in part. If the petition is revoked in part, the remainder of the petition shall remain approved and a revised approval notice shall be sent to the petitioner with the revocation notice.

(v) Appeal of a revocation of a petition. Revocation with notice of a petition in whole or in part may be appealed to the Associate Commissioner for Examinations under part 103 of this chapter. Automatic revocation may not be appealed.

(10) Extension of stay. An alien's total period of stay in the United States under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act cannot exceed fifteen (15) months. The authorized stay of an international cultural exchange visitor may be extended within the 15-month limit if he or she is the beneficiary of a new petition filed in accordance with paragraph (q)(3) of this section. The new petition, if filed by the same employer, should include a copy of the previous petition's approval notice and a letter from the petitioner indicating any terms and conditions of the previous petition that have changed. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(11) Employment provisions -- (i) General. An alien classified under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(i) of the Act may be employed only by the qualified employer through which the alien attained Q-1 nonimmigrant status. An alien in this class is not required to apply for an employment authorization document. Employment outside the specific program violates the terms of the alien's Q-1 nonimmigrant status within the meaning of section 237(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(ii) Wages and working conditions. The wages and working conditions of an international cultural exchange visitor must be comparable to those accorded to domestic workers similarly employed in the geographical area of the alien's employment. The employer must certify on the petition that such conditions are met as in accordance with paragraph (q)(4)(iii)(B) of this section. (Amended 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(12) (Reserved) (Added and reserved 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(13) (Reserved) (Added and reserved 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(14) (Reserved) (Added and reserved 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(15) Irish peace process cultural and training program visitors (Q-2) and their dependents (Q-3). (Paragraph (h)(15) added 3/17/00; 65 FR 14774)

(i) General. An Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program (IPPCTP) visitor is a nonimmigrant alien coming to the United States temporarily to gain or upgrade work skills through training and temporary employment and to experience living in a diverse and peaceful environment.

(ii) What are the requirements for participation? (A) The principal alien must have been physically resident in either Northern Ireland or the counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo, and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, for at least 3 months immediately preceding application to the program and must show that he or she has no intention of abandoning this residence.

(B) The principal alien must be between the ages of 18 and 35.

(C) The principal alien must:

( 1 ) Be unemployed for at least 3 months, or have completed or currently be enrolled in a training/employment program sponsored by the Training and Employment Agency of Northern Ireland (T&EA) or by the Training and Employment Authority of Ireland (FAS), or by other such publicly funded programs, or have been made redundant from employment (i.e., lost their job), or have received a notice of redundancy (termination of employment); or

( 2 ) Be a currently employed person whose employer has nominated him/her to participate in this program for additional training or job experience that is to benefit both the participant and his/her employer upon returning home.

(D) The principal alien must intend to come to the United States temporarily, for a period not to exceed 36 months, in order to obtain training, employment, and the experience of coexistence and conflict resolution in a diverse society.

(iii) Are there any limitations on admissions? (A) No more than 4,000 participants, including spouses and any minor children of principal aliens, may be admitted annually for 3 consecutive program years, beginning with FY 2000 (October 1, 1999, through September 30, 2000).

(B) For each alien admitted under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(ii) of the Act, the number of aliens admitted under section 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) of the Act is reduced by one for that fiscal year or the subsequent fiscal year.

(C) This program expires on October 1, 2005.

(iv) What are the requirements for initial admission to the United States?

(A) Principal aliens, their spouses, and minor children of principal aliens must present valid passports and either a Q-2 or Q-3 visa at the time of inspection.

(B) Initial admission for those principal and dependent aliens in this program who received their visas at either the U.S. Embassy in Dublin or the U.S. Consulate in Belfast must take place at the Service's Pre-Flight Inspection facilities at either the Shannon or Dublin airports in the Republic of Ireland.

(C) The principal alien will be required to present a Certification Letter issued by the Department of State's (DOS') Program Administrator documenting him or her as an individual selected for participation in the IPPCTP. Eligible dependents may be requested to present written documentation certifying their relationship to the principal.

(v) May the principal alien and dependents make brief visits outside the United States?

(A) The principal alien, spouse, and any minor children of the principal alien may make brief departures, for periods not to exceed 3 consecutive months, and may be readmitted without having to obtain a new visa. However, such periods of time spent outside the United States will not be added to the end of stay, which is not to exceed a total of 3 years from the initial date of entry of the principal alien.

(B) Those participants or dependents who remain outside the United States in excess of 3 consecutive months will not be readmitted by the Service on their initial Q-2 or Q-3 visa. Instead, any such individual and eligible dependents wishing to rejoin the program will be required to reapply to the program and be in receipt of a new Q-2 or Q-3 visa and a Certification Letter issued by the DOS' Program Administrator, prior to any subsequent admission to the United States.

(vi) How long may a Q-2 or Q-3 visa holder remain in the United States under this program ?

(A) The principal alien and any accompanying, or following-to-join, spouse or minor children of the principal alien are admitted for the duration of the principal alien's planned cultural and training program or 36 months, whichever is shorter.

(B) Those participants and eligible dependents admitted for specific periods less than 36 months may extend their period of stay through the Service so that their total period of stay is 36 months, provided the extension of stay is related to employment or training certified by the DOS' Program Administrator.

(vii) How is employment authorized under this program? (A) Following endorsement of his/her Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, by a Service officer, any principal alien admitted under section 101(a)(15)(Q)(ii) of the Act is permitted to work for an employer or employers listed on the Certification Letter issued by the DOS' Program Administrator.

(B) The accompanying spouse and minor children of the principal alien may not accept employment, unless the spouse has also been designated as a principal alien (Q-2) in this program and has been issued a Certification Letter by the DOS' Program Administrator.

(viii) May the principal alien change employers? Principal aliens wishing to change employers must request such a change through the DOS' Program Administrator to the Service. Following review and consideration of the request by the Service, the Service will inform the participant of the decision. The Service will grant such approval of employers only if the new employer has been approved by DOS in accordance with its regulations and such approval is communicated to the Service through the DOS' Program Administrator. If approved, the participant's Form I -94 will be annotated to show the new employer. If denied, there is no appeal under this section.

(ix) May the principal alien hold other jobs during his/her U.S. visit? No; any principal alien classified as an Irish peace process cultural and training program visitor may only engage in employment that has been certified by the DOS' Program Administrator and approved by the DOS or the Service as endorsed on the Form I-94. An alien who engages in unauthorized employment violates the terms of the Q-2 visa and will be considered to have violated section 237(a)(1)(C)(i) of the Act.

(x) What happens if a principal alien loses his/her job? A principal alien, who loses his or her job, will have 30 days from his/her last date of employment to locate appropriate employment or training, to have the job offer certified by the DOS' Program Administrator in accordance with the DOS' regulations and to have it approved by the Service. If appropriate employment or training cannot be found within this 30-day-period, the principal alien and any accompany family members will be required to depart the United States.

This information can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Nonimmigrant Visas: