Chapter 5 - Admissions, Extensions of Stay, and Changes of Status
If approved for nonimmigrant international cultural exchange visitor (Q-1) classification and found otherwise admissible, a beneficiary may be admitted as a Q-1 nonimmigrant for a period of up to 15 months from the date of initial admission.
An officer should not approve petitions for participants who have an aggregate of 15 months in the United States as a Q-1 nonimmigrant, unless the participants have resided and been physically present outside the United States for the immediate prior year.
Generally, a beneficiary in a current valid nonimmigrant status who has not violated his or her status is eligible to change status to a Q-1 nonimmigrant in the United States without having to return to his or her home country for a visa interview. USCIS may grant such a beneficiary Q-1 status for up to 15 months.
To change nonimmigrant status, the petitioning employer or agent should file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) before the beneficiary’s current status expires and indicate the request is for a change of status. The beneficiary cannot work in the new Q-1 nonimmigrant classification until USCIS approves the petition and the change of status request.
If USCIS determines that the beneficiary is eligible for Q-1 classification, but not a change of status, the beneficiary must depart the United States, apply for a Q-1 nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consular post abroad (unless visa-exempt) and then be readmitted to the United States as a Q-1 nonimmigrant.
Q-1 nonimmigrants may change employers without leaving the United States. A new employer must file a petition with all required evidence establishing the existence of an international cultural exchange program. The total period of stay in the United States, however, remains limited to 15 months. The beneficiary cannot work for the new employer until USCIS approves the petition and the change of status request.