The I visa is commonly referred to as Media Visa. It is a nonimmigrant visa for foreign media workers traveling to the U.S.A., engaging in their profession and having their home office in a foreign country. While issuing the I visa, the consular officer will consider whether the applicant’s own government grants similar privileges, to representatives of the media or press from the U.S.A. and follow appropriate procedures.
An I visa is for “representative of the foreign media” such as members of the press, film, radio or print industries, whose activities are necessary to the function of the foreign media such as reporters, film crews, editors and other persons in similar occupations, traveling to the U.S.A. to engage in their profession.
The I visa is generally issued only for 1 year and can be applied for abroad or within the U.S.A. as change of status.
- Bona fide representatives of foreign press, radio, film or other foreign information media. It includes:
- Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming news, events or documentaries;
- Employees of independent production companies if the employees either:
- Hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association; or
- If no credential is available because the sending company has no credentialing authority or the authority does not offer credentialing to the class of media representatives to which the employees belong must satisfy the definition of representative of foreign media
- Television crews and personnel. Private production crews where the film will be distributed solely for information or news. Commercial entertainment crews are not included
- Freelance Media Workers who have a valid employment contract
- Representative of a Tourist Bureau (whether or not the representative is controlled by a foreign government) who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about the country.
- Employees of organizations disseminating technical industrial information
The I visa does not apply to:
- Film production/distribution unless the film is informational or educational;
- Camera Crew and other workers producing for commercial entertainment/advertising purposes. In these cases individuals should obtain O-1/O-2 Visas
Foreign Press includes a foreign press owned by U.S. shareholders if it is staffed in large part by non-Americans to collect information for foreign audience.