Criteria for the I Visa
An individual may qualify for an I visa if they are a member of the foreign media who is employed by, or under contract with, a foreign media organization, such as journalists or those 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 individual 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 visa classification only if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate news or other information.
The type of information being reported on 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. This includes major news stories or sporting events 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 and do not generally involve journalism. Accordingly, it would not meet the requirements of the I visa. Similarly, documentaries involving staged recreations by actors are not considered informational and members of the team working on such productions will not qualify for I visas.
The FAM note for Information Media Representatives – I visas was amended on August 22, 2018. The new notes make the I Media visa available to bloggers. To read more about this update, visit The US Department of State Amends FAM Notes for I Media Visas.