The "media (I)" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily who are representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, having the home office in a foreign country.
Changes introduced shortly after September 11, 2001 involve extensive and ongoing review of visa issuing practices as they relate to our national security. Visa applications are now subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the past. So it is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel departure date.
A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the United States port-of entry, and request permission of the U.S. immigration inspector to enter the U.S. A visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S.
Qualifying for a Media (I) Visa
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is very specific with regard to the requirements, which must be met by applicants to qualify for the media (I) visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they are properly qualified to be issued a media visa.
Under immigration law, media visas are for “representatives of the foreign media,” including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, traveling to the U.S. to engage in their profession.
The applicant must be engaging in qualifying activities for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country.
The activity must be essentially informational, and generally associated with the news gathering process, reporting on actual current events, to be eligible for the media visa.
For example, reporting on sports events are usually appropriate for the media visa. Other examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities
Spouses and Children
Spouses and/or children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal media visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require media visas (derivative I visas). The application procedure is the same as for a primary media visa applicant. If the spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, a copy of the principal visa holder's media visa must be furnished with the application.
The spouse and/or children of a media visa holder here in the U.S. may not work. If employment is desired, the appropriate work visa will be required.
The spouse and/or children of a media visa holder who are in the U.S. on a media visa may study in the U.S. without also being required to apply for a student (F-1) visa.
Spouses and/or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas, or if qualified, travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program .
Applying for a Media Visa - Required Documentation
As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by embassy or consulate. Making your appointment for an interview is the first step in the visa application process. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most embassy websites. During the visa application process, usually at the interview, a ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer. Each applicant for a media visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:
What are the Required Fees?
It is important that you refer to the Embassy Consular Section website in the travelers country of residence to determine visa processing timeframes and instructions, learn about interview scheduling, and find out if there are any additional documentation items required. Learn more by contacting the Embassy Consular Section.
Working Media Cannot Travel Without a Visa on the Visa Waiver Program
Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who want to enter the United States temporarily, as representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, as media or journalists, must first obtain a media visa to come to the U.S. They cannot travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program. Those who attempt to do travel without a visa, on the Visa Waiver Program may be denied admission to the United States by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. immigration inspector at the port of entry. For more information on VWP, see Visa Waiver Program .
When Can a Visitor Visa Be Used?
Activities Which Do Not Qualify for a Media Visa
While certain activities clearly qualify for the media visa, as they are informational and newsgathering in content, many do not. Each application 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 media visa, the consular officer will focus on whether the activity is essentially informational, and whether it is generally associated with the news gathering process.
The activities listed below, are shown as examples, which would not qualify for a media visa, and would require a temporary worker type visa, such as the H, O, or P visa. Select Temporary Workers to go to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS Website to learn about temporary worker requirements and procedures for filing the petition, which must be approved by USCIS, prior to applying for the visa. For specific nonimmigrant visa information, select Visa Types for Temporary Visitors. See Non-Immigrant Visas
The activity listed below is an example, which would not qualify for a media visa, and would require a Visitor Visa .
Guest speaker or lecturer - Public speaking or other usual academic activities, where an honorarium is paid, would not be considered engaging in journalism, and therefore would not be permitted using the I visa. It should be noted, the speaking activity must last no longer than nine days at a single institution and the speaker cannot have received payment from more than five institutions or organizations for such activities in the last six months. However, a media representative, holding a media, I visa can engage in informal free speaking activities, where no fee for such activities is received, beyond reimbursement of reasonable expenses.
Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud
Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the United States. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas, provides important information about ineligibilities.
Visa Ineligibility/ Waiver
The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, indicates some classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable for a certain type of visa, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas, provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the immigration and Nationality Act.
If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. For additional information, select Denials. In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.
Entering the U.S. - Port of Entry
A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad, to travel to the United States port-of entry and request permission to enter the U.S. Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the U.S., the CBP official will determine the length of your visit on the Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). Since Form I-94 documents your authorized stay in the U.S., it’s very important to keep in your passport. In advance of travel, prospective travelers should review important information about Admissions/Entry requirements, as well as information related to restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products or other restricted/prohibited goods explained on the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website. Upon arrival (at an international airport, seaport or land border crossing), you will be enrolled in the US-VISIT entry-exit program. In addition, some travelers will also need to register their entry into and their departure from the U.S. with the Special Registration program.
Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S. and Being Out of Status
How Do I Extend My Stay?
Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must contact the Department of Homeland Security's United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request an application to extend status. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by USCIS. Learn more about Extension of Stay. Or select How Do I Extend My Stay in the United States?
Further Visa Inquiries
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Moses Apsan and his staff, based in New York City and Newark, NJ provide exceptional legal services throughout the world, in all aspects of immigration to the United States, including non-immigrant (temporary visas), immigrant visa (Green Card) and deportation defense. In addition Mr. Apsan, has been practicing Bankruptcy law and Divorce laws for over 35 years, He was the President of the Federal Bar Association, New Jersey Chapter (1997-2002). He speaks Portuguese and Spanish..