Media & Journalist Visas
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 consular officer will determine whether or not an activity qualifies for the media visa. 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. As an example, reporting on sports events is usually appropriate for the media visa.
Examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities:
- 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 United States.
- 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 United States 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 United States offices of organizations which distribute technical industrial information.
Additionally, as non-immigrants, applicants must demonstrate that:
- That they plan to remain in the U.S. for a temporary, specific, limited period;
- Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States;
- Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
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 tourist visas or, if from a qualified country, 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 visa unit is required. As part of the visa interview, a quick, two-digit, ink-free fingerprint scan and digital photo are taken. Each applicant for a media visa must submit these forms and documentation, and submit fees as explained below:
- A Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed preferably via Internet using the computer, and signed; if this is not possible, you can obtain a copy when you come to the Embassy for your appointment.
- A Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157 if the applicant is a male between 16-45 years of age.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended date of entry to the United States. If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must make an application.
Proof of employment – Provide the following:
- Freelance Journalist under contract to a media organization: A copy of the contract with the organization, which shows the employee’s name, position held within the company; purpose and length of stay in the United States 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 United States.
Richard Harris Law Firm works to simplify the media & journalist visa process. If you would like us to assist in your media & journalist visa process, please contact us.
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