The media (I) visa is a nonimmigrant visa for representatives of the foreign media temporarily traveling to the United States (U.S.), to engage in their profession while having their home office in a foreign country. Some procedures and fees under immigration law, relate to policies of the travelers home country, and in turn, the U.S. follows a similar practice, which we call “reciprocity.” Procedures for providing media visas to foreign media representatives of a particular country, consider whether the visa applicant’s own government grants similar privileges or is reciprocal, to representatives of the media or press from the United States. There are very specific requirements which must be met by applicants for qualify for the media visa, under U.S. immigration law.
- Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
- Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film will only qualify for a media visa if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Additionally, the primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the U.S.
- Journalists working under contract- Persons holding a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working under contract on a product to be used abroad by an information or cultural medium to disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising. Please note that a valid employment contract is required.
- Employees of independent production companies when those employees hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.
- 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 U.S. to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
- Accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who are not entitled to A-2 visa classification.
- Technical industrial information- Employees in the U.S. offices of organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.
Each applicant for a media visa must submit these forms and documentation as explained below:
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. process.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application;
- One (1) 2×2 photograph.
- Proof of employment – Provide the following:
- Staff Journalist: A letter from the employer that gives the employees name, position held within the company, and purpose and length of stay in the U.S.
- Freelance Journalist under contract to a media organization: A copy of the contract with the organization, which shows the employees name, position held within the company; purpose and length of stay in the U.S. and duration of contract.
- Media Film Crew: a letter from the employer which gives the following information: name; position held within company; title and brief description of the program being filmed and period of time required for filming in the U.S.
- Independent Production Company under contract to media organization: a letter from the organization commissioning the work which gives the following information: name; title and brief description of the program being filmed; period of time required for filming in the U.S. and duration of contract.
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
- Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer. Applicants are advised of this requirement when they apply. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview. When administrative processing is required, the timing will vary based on individual circumstances of each case. Visa applicants are reminded to apply early for their visa, well in advance of the anticipated travel date.
Important Notice: Before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants or their representatives will need to wait at least 60 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.