The media visa facilitates the entrance of foreign journalists to the US to publish events in this country. Under the US I visa, journalists are allowed to perform certain activities in the US. In this article, we will explain the answers to some common questions related to the eligibility criteria for this visa, the application process, and other details.
What is the US I visa?
The I visa is a temporary visa issued to people working in media fields such as radio, press, film, and print industries. Under the visa, people can travel to the United States to do jobs related to the media. These people must be employed in media organizations located outside the United States. So a media worker can’t work for an organization inside the United States. Their main task is to collect and publish news about events that are currently taking place in the United States. Individuals cannot enter the United States for the purpose of journalism under the visitor visas or Visa Waiver Program.
What are the requirements for this visa?
In general, people who work with the media are eligible for the US I visa, but more precisely, the following people can apply for this visa:
- A person who works for an independent production company or foreign information media and has a foreign journalism certificate. These people have to work on news events and documentaries.
- A person who works in the field of production and distribution of current information and news or educational content. The main source and distribution of funding for such activities should be provided from outside the United States.
- Journalists who work under contract with a foreign media or journalistic company to publish news that aims to inform. They are not allowed to work on news that has entertainment or commercial content.
- Journalists traveling to the US to report on events happening in the US to foreign audiences.
- A representative of a tourist bureau that has a credential and aims to travel to the United States to gather factual tourism information about the country. The budget of the representative company must be partially provided by the foreign government.
- An employee of an organization that distributes industrial technical information. This person can work in the US office of this company.
- Independent journalists who have a valid employment contract from a foreign media company. These people have to collect and publish information.
Note that people working in jobs such as librarians, proofreaders, or set designers must obtain an H, O, or P visa to enter the US. Also, in the following cases, people can apply for a visitor visa:
- Participate in seminars, conferences, and meetings, provided that the person does not report about the conference or meeting when he is in the US or when returning to his home country.
- Lectures at higher education institutions, provided that the activity is not last longer than nine days in one institution, should also not be received payment from more than five institutions in the last six months.
- Travel to the United States to take a vacation without making a report.
- Participate in independent research.
- Taking a photo as long as no income is received from the US source
All people traveling to the country on a US I visa must engage in informational events, although they can also enroll in some university courses. These people cannot enroll in full academic programs and are not allowed to work for an American company.
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How to apply for this visa?
Applicants for the visa do not need to provide many requirements. The only criterion is that they work in the positions mentioned above. The visa requirements are similar to other US nonimmigrant visas. The US I visa application form is DS-160, which must be completed online by the applicant. After completion of this form, a confirmation page and a code will be issued to you that you must save. It is also necessary to attach a photo of the applicant.
Participating in an interview is an essential part of the pre-visa process. All applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must be interviewed. Since the workload of the embassy is large, it is essential to plan the interview as early as possible to avoid waiting long. After making an appointment, you will gain a letter containing the information related to the interview. You must attach this letter to your other documents.
Applicants for the US I visa must provide the following documents to support their request:
- A valid passport
- confirmation page of Form DS-160
- Receipt of all payments made by the applicant
- Visa appointment letter
- A letter from the employer indicating the purpose of the applicant’s trip to the United States. This purpose must be under the objectives defined for this visa. Besides, the letter must state such matters as the length of stay, the duration of the employment contract, and the applicant’s information.
- Documents such as employment contracts, journalism credentials, press cards, and applicants’ articles that have already been published must be submitted to qualify for the US I visa.
- Medical records that prove the applicant’s health.
- Documents showing that the applicant has no criminal record in the past
During the interview, the consular officer will ask questions about your personality, health status, criminal record, as well as the visas you have previously had. Your purpose for going to the US is being questioned. You should try to answer all the questions honestly and not hide anything. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans must be taken as part of your application process during your interview.
At the end of the interview, the officer will almost make the final decision. But the decision will be announced to you later.
The US I visa cost is $ 160, which must be paid by the applicant. This fee is non-refundable, regardless of the embassy’s decision on the visa. The applicant must also pay the visa issuance fee. The cost of issuing a visa depends on the applicant’s home country and its relationship with the US. After paying the fees, save the payment receipt because you will need it later.
How long does it take to evaluate the provided documents and issue the visa?
After attending the interview, it will take some time to be processed your request. The result of the visa is usually determined ten days after the application, but this time depends on the workload of the embassy. You will receive a letter informing you whether you have been granted the visa or not. If the visa is approved, you can get ready for the trip, but if it is rejected, you can ask for an explanation, repeal the decision, or re-apply. However, keep in mind that getting a US I visa does not mean that you will definitely enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials decide on this. If you are authorized to enter the US, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or paper Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record).
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How long can the visa holder stay in the US?
The visa validity will depend on the length of your mission in the United States. In other words, if your employment contract states that you need to work as a journalist in the US for six months, your visa will be valid for six months. If your visa is nearing expiration, but your mission has not yet expired, you can apply for a visa extension. To do this, you must submit Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) to USCIS.
For US I visa renewal, you must indicate that you are working in the field of collecting and disseminating news information and that your employment contract must be renewed. The extensions are for one year.
Can the visa holder change their visa type?
Yes. The visa holder can change his visa type to a visa, such as H1B if he can find an employer as a sponsor. For this purpose, the employer must first submit a request and documents. After receiving some approvals, you, as an employee, must go through other steps.
Can the US I visa holder bring family members to the US?
Yes. Your unmarried children under 21 years old and your spouse can enter the US as your dependents. They can petition at the same time as you or after you have received your visa. To obtain a visa, the relationship of the dependents with the holder of the US I visa must be proved by presenting documents such as a birth certificate and marriage certificate. Also, if the dependents apply after you have received your visa, they must provide a copy of the issued visa. Your dependents are allowed to enroll in academic courses but cannot work in the US.
Also, if you renew or change your visa status, your dependents will have to do the same to be allowed to stay in the US.
Let’s sum up…
An I visa is a temporary work permit like a CW visa, TN visa, and E visa. In this article, we have reviewed the requirements and the application process for an I visa. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.