I visas are for members of the foreign media visiting the United State for journalistic, informational, or educational media activities. This includes the foreign press, film crews, radio outlets, and other types of reporters. Spouses and minor children of I visa holders can accompany them to the U.S. with their own I visa.
How to get an I Visa for foreign media
To obtain an I visa for a member of the foreign media, proof is required that the media organization paying the visa holder (and providing funding for any media projects) is from outside of the United States. If the I visa holder is reporting on U.S. events, it must be for a foreign audience. I visas are for informational, not commercial, purposes. I visas cannot be used for creating material for commercial entertainment (movies, reality TV, etc.) or advertising.
While some I visa applications fall obviously in the journalism category, there are many informational or educational activities that are in a grey area. The I visa is discretionary and requirements are deliberately vague. It is ultimately up the reviewing officer to determine if they are appropriate and determine visa approval.
I Visa restrictions
Foreign media representatives cannot travel to the U.S. on a visitor (B) visa or as a citizen of the Visa Waiver Program in lieu of applying for an I visa. Historically, this rule was not enforced for citizens of the Visa Waiver Program, but after 9/11, border patrol officers started to crack down.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer determines the length of stay for an I visa at point of entry to the U.S. There are unlimited extensions available on an I visa. I visa holders are also eligible to change visa status while in the U.S. by filing Form I-539. Like all other non-immigrant visa applicants, an I visa applicant must prove
- Their stay in the U.S. is temporary
- They have sufficient funds to support themselves in the U.S.
- They intend to return to their home country after their work is finished.
Each week, we look at a different non-immigrant visa by letter, starting with “A” visas. Our intention is to not only help people understand the depth and complexity of U.S. immigration, but also to bring awareness to the enormously diverse pool of immigrants that enter our country every year.