Journalists and members of the media may use the I visa to allow them to travel to the US for the purpose of reporting on US events or filming factual documentaries for information or educational purposes.
Applying for an I visa involves an interview at a local US Embassy or Consulate. The applicant should provide evidence of the purpose of the trip and their qualifications as a journalist or member of the media.
Criteria for the I Visa
A person may qualify for an I visa if they are a member of the media who is employed by, or under contract with, a foreign media organization, such as journalists or members of the media working for a foreign press, radio, television or film production company. A journalist or member of the media employed by a US news organization may also qualify for an I visa provided they are coming to the United States solely to report on US news events for a foreign audience and they will continue to be paid by the foreign based office.
A journalist or member of the media may qualify for an I visa if the following requirements are met:
- Is a bona fide representative of the foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media;
- The media organization has an office in a foreign country, the government of which grants reciprocity for similar privileges to representatives of such a medium having home offices in the United States; and
- The member of the media seeks to enter the United States solely to engage in such a vocation.
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.
The type of information being reported or filmed is key in determining whether a member of the media will qualify for an I visa. Specifically, the news or production must be essentially informational and is generally associated with the news gathering process such as sports events or major news stories occurring in the United States. In comparison, stories that involve contrived and staged events, even when unscripted, such as reality television shows, and quiz shows are not primarily informational do not generally involve journalism and therefore would not meet the requirements of the I visa. 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.