The Q-1 visa is designed to allow U.S. entry to people participating in an established international cultural exchange program that provides practical training, employment, and sharing of the participants' native culture, history, and traditions with the people of the United States.
There is no cap on the number of visas issued under this category each year nor on the number of nationals of a country admitted to the United States under this category. That means that, as an applicant, you won't face long waits for the visa, other than the length of time it takes to get through the application process.
A Q-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning that it is temporary, and allows entry into the U.S. for a limited purpose. Your spouse and children (unmarried, under age 21) may accompany you, by obtaining Q-3 visas.
How long you'll be able to spend in the U.S. on your Q visa will depend partly on your employer/sponsor's needs and description of the job. You'll be admitted for the length of time the program lasts, up to a maximum stay of 15 months, plus 30 days in which to depart the United States.
A Q-1 visa holder cannot apply for an extension of stay. You must spend one year outside the United States before applying for a new Q-1 visa.
To be eligible for a Q-1 visa, you must:
In addition, your employer will need to demonstrate that it meets certain criteria. The employer will not need to (and cannot) obtain certification that it meets these criteria in advance, but will have to demonstrate this as part of the process of applying for your Q visa. Specifically, the employer will need to show that it:
The application must be started by the employer, who will submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, to USCIS. Besides the Form 1-129, the employer must submit evidence that you and it meet the various eligibilty criteria, most notably evidence that:
Upon approval, USCIS will send a Form I-797 notice to the employer. You will need to produce this at the U.S. embassy or consulate, where you will also submit your own forms and paperwork requesting a nonimmigrant visa. The consulate will supply you with the necessary forms and instructions.
Your employer is likely to pay the fee for the Form I-129 petition to USCIS. At the consulate, you will also be asked to pay an application fee, which you can find out on the "Fees for Visa Services" page of the Department of State website.