I Non-Immigrant Visa

OVERVIEW

A citizen of a foreign country, who wishes to enter the United States, generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel.

Working Media Cannot Travel Without a Visa on the Visa Waiver Program.

Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who want to enter the United States temporarily, as representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, as media or journalists, must first obtain a media visa to come to the U.S. They cannot travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program. Those who attempt to do travel without a visa, on the Visa Waiver Program may be denied admission to the United States by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. immigration inspector at the port of entry. For more information on VWP, see Visa Waiver Program

DEFINITION

The "media (I)" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily who are representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, having the home office in a foreign country.

ELIGIBILITY

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is very specific with regard to the requirements, which must be met by applicants to qualify for the media (I) visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly qualified to be issued a media visa. Under immigration law, media visas are for "representatives of the foreign media," including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, traveling to the U.S. to engage in their profession. The applicant must be engaging in qualifying activities for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country. The consular officer will determine whether or not an activity qualifies for the media visa. The activity must be essentially informational, and generally associated with the news gathering process, reporting on actual current events, to be eligible for the media visa. For example, reporting on sports events are usually appropriate for the media visa. Other examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities:

  • Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
  • Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film will only qualify for a media visa if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Additionally, the primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the United States
  • Journalists working under contract- Persons holding a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working under contract on a product to be used abroad by an information or cultural medium to disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising. Please note that a valid employment contract is required.
  • Employees of independent production companies when those employees hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.
  • Foreign journalists working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media outlet if the journalist is going to the United States to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
  • I-visas are also appropriate for foreign journalists working for an overseas branch, office, or subsidiary of a US network, newspaper, or other media outlet if the journalist is coming to the US to report on US events solely for a foreign audience. If the journalist will replace or augment American journalists reporting on US events for an American audience, a work visa will be required.
  • Accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who are not entitled to A-2 visa classification.
  • Technical industrial information- Employees in the United States offices of organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.


Activities Which DO NOT Qualify for a Media Visa

As discussed above, while certain activities clearly qualify for the media visa, as they are informational and newsgathering in content, many do not. Each application will be considered in the full context of their particular case. In making the determination as to whether or not an activity qualifies for the media visa, the consular officer will focus on whether the activity is essentially informational, and whether it is generally associated with the news gathering process.

The activities listed below, are shown as examples, which would not qualify for a media visa, and would require a temporary worker type visa, such as the H, O, or P visa.

  • Material for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes- A media visa cannot be used to film material, or for employees who will work on a film, which will be used primarily for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes. A temporary worker visa is required.
  • Proofreaders, librarians, set designers - People involved in associated activities such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers, etc., are not eligible for media visas and may qualify under another classification, such as H, O, or P visas.
  • Stories which are staged events, television and quiz shows - Stories that involve contrived and staged events, even when unscripted, such as reality television shows, and quiz shows are not primarily informational and do not generally involve journalism. Similarly, documentaries involving staged recreations with actors are also not considered informational. Members of the team working on such productions will not qualify for media visa. Television, radio, and film production companies may wish to seek expert counsel from an immigration attorney who specializes in media work for specific advice tailored to the current project.


Artistic media content production

Media representatives who will travel to the U.S. in order to participate in the production of artistic media content (in which actors are used) will not qualify for a media visa. Television, radio, and film production companies may wish to seek expert counsel from an immigration attorney who specializes in media work for specific advice tailored to the current project.

DEPENDENTS

Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal media visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require media visas (derivative I visas). The application procedure is the same as for a primary media visa applicant. If the spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, a copy of the principal visa holder's media visa must be furnished with the application.

The spouse and/or children of a media visa holder here in the U.S. may not work. If employment is desired, the appropriate work visa will be required.

The spouse and/or children of a media visa holder who are in the U.S. on a media visa may study in the U.S. without also being required to apply for a student (F-1) visa.

Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas, or if qualified, travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program



Federal Way 253-838-5444
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not legal advice. It is a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt by you does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. For case specific legal advice, please contact our firm.
Copyright © NORBACHE-GOFF, PLLC. All right reserved