I Visa for Journalists and Foreign Media
Are you a journalist or work in foreign media and need to travel to the United States for work-related reasons? You may want to look into applying for the I Visa.
What is an I Visa?
The I visa is a temporary US visa for all journalists and other media workers who go to the US with the purpose of doing jobs related to the media. This means that they are actively engaged in collecting and disseminating information on current news events in the US.
However, they must be employed in a media company or organization which is based outside the US. So the organization must be foreign, and the media workers cannot get an I visa to work for a US company.
Who May Qualify for an I Visa?
Most media related jobs qualify for the I visa; however, to make it more specific, the US has defined who can get this visa, such as:
- A person who works in an independent production company with foreign journalistic credentials. This person must be filming events related to current news or a documentary.
- A person who is producing or distributing film which is related to current news information or is educational. The film must be financed by a company outside the US.
- Journalists with a contract from a foreign media or journalistic company. These journalists must be collecting news that are used to inform and not for commercial purposes.
- Journalists going to the US to collect news information about an event happening in the US. The news information must be targeted to a foreign audience.
- A representative of a bureau of tourism who has valid accreditation. The representative’s company must be partially funded by a foreign government, and the purpose of the visit must be to collect touristic information about the US.
- A person who works in a company which distributes technical industrial information. This person can then work in the US offices of that company.
- Journalistic freelancers who have a valid work contract from a foreign media company. The freelancer must be engaged in any of the above mentioned work, provided that they work to collect and disseminate information.
What Are the Requirements for the I Visa?
The I visa does not have many requirements. The only criteria that applicants must fulfill is related to their occupation. This means that they must be working in a position as described above.
So you must be a representative of a foreign media organization and must be gathering news. Other than that, there are no other requirements to get the I visa.
How to Apply for an I Visa
The application procedure for the I Visa is similar to all US nonimmigrant visas. You will have to apply to your nearest US Embassy office.
To apply for an I Visa, you will start by filling in Form DS-160 and submitting a photograph that fulfills US Visa photo requirements. You will then pay the application fee, schedule your visa interview, and gather all required documents.
After You File
After you file your Form DS-160 and submit all required documentation, you will attend the I Visa interview at your closest US consulate or embassy.
The official will have almost made a decision at the end of your interview, but you will have to wait for the processing to get your answer.
I Visa Processing Time
Generally, the I visa is processed within 10 days after your application. However, this time varies depending on the workload of the Embassy. You will receive a letter letting you know whether you got the visa or not.
How Long Can I Stay in the US With an I Visa?
The I visa is issued for the period that you will have to work in the US in the capacities described in the first section. This means that if your work contract states that you will need to be in the US as a journalist for 6 months, then your visa will be valid for only 6 months. You must continue to maintain your status and prove that you are working to qualify for the I visa.
Can I Extend my I Visa?
If your visa is nearing expiration, but you still have work to do, you can request extensions. You must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to USCIS for any extensions. All extensions are given in a period of one year and there are no limits to the number of extensions you can get.