Traveling on assignment in the U.S.A.
If you are a journalist, broadcaster or other member on the media, you cannot travel to the U.S. on assignment without the appropriate permit. Under these conditions, you are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, the B-1 business visa or the B-2 tourist visa. Instead, you need an “I” class visa.
Although it may be tempting to enter the U.S. posing as a tourist, if you are caught, you will be denied entry and this could affect you ability to travel to the U.S. in the future.
What is a media representative?
This is a very broad category but applies to anyone involved in a job associated directly with journalism. Common media representatives include:
- Film crews
- Video tape editors
- Employees of independent production companies
- Freelance journalists
I'm not on the list above, but I work for a media company. Does this visa cover me?
Not necessarily. Non-media employees involved in associated activities will require other visas. This includes people with positions like:
- Set designers
- Members of production teams
How do I get an I-visa?
Unlike many other employment-based visas, you can get an I-visa directly from the U.S. consulate or embassy. You do not need a U.S. sponsor to file a petition first. However, you must provide all supporting documents to prove you are in the media and on assignment.
How long can I remain in the U.S. ?
The validity of the I-visa will be determined by the U.S. consulate or embassy, but you can get an unlimited number of one-year extensions. This visa can lead to a green card.
What activities are allowed under the I-visa?
This visa allows you to gather and distribute information or news. This includes reporting on news events, trends, sports and anything considered “newsworthy.” If you are making a documentary, it must involve live interviews, not actors.
Staged events and contrived circumstances do not apply, even if they are unscripted. Reality shows, game shows and satiric documentaries are not allowed under this visa. Neither are serious documentaries with actors recreating actual events. After all, if you are using actors to restage an event, you can do that anywhere in the world.
What about journalists working for a U.S. media organization?
If you are a foreign journalist and work for an overseas branch of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media outlet, you can enter the U.S. on an I-visa if you:
- Report on U.S. news events for a foreign audience
- Are paid by the foreign-based office
You cannot report on events in the U.S. for a U.S. audience with an I-visa. Instead you must get the appropriate employment-based visa.
Can I bring my family?
Spouses and children can enter the U.S. with you under the I-visa, but they cannot work while in the United States .