Q-1/Q-2 Cultural Exchange Visitors/ Irish Peace Process Participants

Q-1 Cultural Exchange Visitors

This category allows nonimmigrants to come to the United States for up to 15 months to participate in international cultural exchange programs. The purpose of the Q-1 exchange program is to provide practical training, employment, and the sharing of the culture of the Q-1 cultural visitor’s country of nationality.

An international cultural exchange program must meet the following requirements:

  • The program must be accessible to the U.S. public and must take place in a school, museum, business, or other establishment where the public is exposed to a foreign culture as part of a structured program. Activities that take place in private homes or isolated business settings do not qualify.
  • The program must have a cultural component that is an essential and integral part of the cultural visitor's employment or training. Acceptable cultural components include exhibits, courses, or lecture series about the arts, literature, history, language, philosophy, or traditions of the Q-1's country of nationality.
  • The program must have a work component that serves as the vehicle to achieve the cultural objective, and the sharing of the Q-1 cultural visitor's culture must result from such employment or training.

The Q-1 cultural visitor must be at least 18 years old and be qualified to perform the service or labor or receive the training stated in the position. The beneficiary must have the ability to communicate effectively about the culture of his or her country of nationality to the U.S. public. Command of the English language is generally necessary, unless the cultural sharing involves a non-verbal component, such as dancing.

The Q-1 employer must petition simultaneously for approval of both its international cultural exchange program and the admission of the particular international cultural exchange visitor. The Q-1 cultural visitor's eligibility for admission will be considered only if the international cultural exchange program is approved.

Spouses and children of cultural visitors are classifiable as B-2 visitors, and may maintain this status for the duration of the cultural visitor's stay.

Q-2 Irish Peace Process Participants

The Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998 (IPPCTPA) amended the INA by creating a new Q-2 nonimmigrant visa subcategory. Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) sponsored this legislation. Hence, Q-2 visas are also referred to as Walsh visas. Under this provision residents of Northern Ireland or of the counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo, or Donegal within the Republic of Ireland who are 35 years old or younger may be issued a visa for up to 36 months. The purpose of this new nonimmigrant subcategory is to provide such noncitizens with practical training, employment, and the experience of coexistence and conflict resolution so that they may return to Ireland or Northern Ireland to bolster that region's economy and support the peace process.

Applicants must be physically resident in either Northern Ireland or in the designated border counties of the Republic of Ireland for at least five preceding application to the program. They must be between the ages of 18 and 35 at the time of initial admission to the United States under the program. In addition, applicants must fall within one of the following categories:

  • Unemployed people who either (a) have been unemployed for at least three months or (b) have completed or are currently participating in a program of the Training and Employment Agency of Northern Ireland (T&EA) or of the Training and Employment Authority of Ireland (FAS) or another publicly funded training and employment program. This category also includes people who have recently been made redundant in their employment (i.e., lost their job) or have received a notice of redundancy (termination of employment). They may apply to the program immediately without having to wait three months after becoming employed.
  • Currently employed people who (a) have been employed by the same employer for at least 90 days and (b) whose current employer has nominated them to participate in the program for additional training and/or job experience that will benefit both the employee and the employer upon that person's return to his or her prior employment.
  • Students pursuing university or other further or higher education certificates in Northern Ireland who need to obtain work experience required for that certification.

There is no petition requirement for Q-2 visitors. However, each candidate must have a written certification from the State Department's program administrator indicating that he or she has been selected for participation in the program before applying for a Q-2 visa. The U.S. Consulate General at Belfast accepts Q-2 visa applications from residents of Northern Ireland. The U.S. Embassy at Dublin accepts applications for Q-2 visas from residents of the border counties in the Republic of Ireland. An applicant for a Q-2 visa may not apply at any other consular post.

The entire program is short term in nature; participants may be initially admitted into the United States only through fiscal year 2002. The Q-2 visa program sunsets on September 30, 2005.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) makes no provision for derivative status for spouses or children of Q-1 cultural visitors. Such dependents must separately qualify for nonimmigrant visas to accompany the Q-1 to the United States. The State Department has indicated that spouses and children of cultural visitors are classifiable as B-2 visitors, and may maintain this status for the duration of the cultural visitor's stay.