Do you work in media?

Representatives of the foreign media traveling on assignment to the United States require “I” classification visas. They are not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program or enter the United States on B-1 business visas. Those who attempt to do so may be denied admission to the United States by immigration authorities at the port of entry.

Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film, including employees of independent production companies, will qualify for “I” classification visas only if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news.

Definition of the term representative of the foreign media includes, but is not limited to, members of the press, radio, or film whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations.
It is important to note that only those whose activities are generally associated with journalism qualify for the “I” classification visa. People involved in associated activities such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers, etc. will require O, P or H visas.

While certain activities clearly qualify for “I” classification visa as they are informational in content, many do not and must be considered in the full context of their particular case. In making the determination as to whether or not an activity qualifies for the “I” classification visa, we focus on two issues:

1. Is the activity essentially informational?

2. Is it generally associated with the news gathering process?

As a general rule, stories that report on events, including sports events, are essentially informational and are usually appropriate “I” classification visa activities. 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 “I” classification visas. They will require the appropriate employment-based (O, P or H) visas.
If you are a freelance journalist you will only be considered for the “I” visa if you are under contract to a media organization. At the time you apply for the visa you will have to provide furnish a letter from the organization describing the nature and duration of the contract.
If the film project is of commercial or entertainment value, the appropriate employment-based O, P or H visa will be required and a petition, form I-129 must be filed and approved with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to you applying for the visa.

I Visa Processing

The I visa does not require the filing of a petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Service. Applicants will need to arrange a visa interview at a US consular post abroad. Interview procedures vary widely among consular posts so it is important to carefully follow instructions provided for the post where your I interview will be held or speak with a NNU Immigration lawyer.

At your I visa interview you will present your application and a consular officer will ask you questions about your experience, the publication or media organization sponsoring you for the visa, and your proposed US employment terms. You will be notified of the decision made on your application at your interview. Provided your application is approved the consular officer will retain your passport for visa stamping.

Your passport with embossed I visa stamp will be returned to you within approximately one week of your interview. Once received you are permitted to travel to the US to work in I status in line with the assignment detailed in your supporting documentation.

NNU Immigration has represented news photographers, media agencies, financial publishing houses, and independent production studios in successfully obtaining I visas and is highly experienced in this area of immigration law.