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I Visas

Visitors on Foreign Media Assignment

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Foreign Media Visas

Representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States on assignment may be eligible for “I” visas. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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, employees of independent production companies, free-lance journalists working under contract, and persons in similar occupations. Only those who are actually involved in the newsgathering process are eligible. People involved in associated activities such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers, etc. are not eligible for I visas.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is very specific with regard to the requirements which must be met to qualify for I visas. I visas may only be issued to employees of a) media organizations, b) employees of independent production companies under contract to a media organization, and c) freelance journalists under contract to media organizations.

Projects must be of an informational or educational nature. Individuals who plan to work on a film which is intended primarily for commercial, entertainment or advertising are not eligible for I visas, and must obtain the appropriate work visa (O, P, or H). A work visa involves obtaining employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to submitting a visa application.

Journalists working for a U.S. media organization

I visas are also appropriate for 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. If the journalist will replace or augment American journalists' reporting on U.S. events for an American audience, an H or O visa will be required.

Spouses, children, and partners    Derivative I-visas

Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal I visa holder in the U.S. for the duration of his/her stay require derivative I visas. The application procedure is the same.  To qualify for a derivative visa, applicants must bring civil documents to prove relationship to the principal applicant, i.e. spouses: original marriage certificate, children: original birth certificate. If the spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, a copy of the principal visa holder's I visa must be furnished with the application, together with proof that the principal is in the U.S. and is working in the media profession.

The bearer of a derivative I visa may not work. If the spouse and/or children of an I visa holder are seeking employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.
Applicants for I visas should follow all instructions listed under "How to apply for a visa" and submit the following supporting documents when applying:

Staff Journalist

  1. A letter from the media organization (your employer) containing a brief description of the media organization itself and its role in the media industry, a brief description of the project, where in the U.S. it will take place, the intended length of stay, and a description of the team workers.  Included in the letter should be your job description, the number of years you have been working for the company, and your experience.  If you are a current member of a professional journalistic or media organization, such as the Netherlands Association of Journalists (NVJ), please bring evidence of this membership to the visa interview.

Independent Production Company

  1. A copy of the contract between the independent production company and the media organization commissioning the work.
  2. A letter from the media organization containing a brief description of the media organization itself and its role in the media industry and a brief description of the project.
  3. A letter from the independent production company (your employer) containing a brief description of the project, where in the U.S. it will take place, the intended length of stay, and a description of the team workers. Included in the letter should be your job description, the number of years you have been working for the company, and your experience.

Please note that if you work for an independent company, you must be a current member of a professional journalistic or media organization, such as the Netherlands Association of Journalists (NVJ), and bring evidence of this membership to the visa interview, in order to qualify for an I visa.

Freelance Journalist

Each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Visas are limited to the duration of the project or work contract.

  1. A letter from you explaining your qualifications, job description, experience, the project, where in the U.S. it will take place, and the intended length of stay.
  2. A copy of the contract from the media organization commissioning you for the work.
  3.  Membership of an accredited professional journalist association, such as the Netherlands Association of Journalists (NVJ), may be required.