Foreign Media Press and Radio Visa

A media visa (I Visa) is a nonimmigrant visa for foreign media persons traveling to the U.S., engaging in their profession,having their home office in a foreign country.While issuing the media visa , the consular officer will consider whether the applicant's own government grants similar privileges or is reciprocal, to representatives of media or press from the U.S. and follow appropriate procedures.There are very specific requirements which must be met by applicants for qualify for the media visa, under U.S. 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, under U.S. immigration laws, 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. The consular officer will determine whether or not an activity qualifies for the media visa. 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:

-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.
-Journalists working under contract- 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. 

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, nor can they travel on a visitor (B) visa; and attempting to do so may be denied admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security, CBP, U.S. immigration officer at the port of entry.


As part of the visa application process, an interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by the U.S. 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.
During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an 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 as explained below:

-Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online 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) 2x2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements.

-Proof of employment – Provide the following:

a)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.

b)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.

c)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.

d)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.

 a)Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee - For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.

b)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.

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 submitted with the application.

-The spouse and/or children of a media visa holder may not work in the United States. 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 derivative I 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 a visitor (B-2) visa, or if qualified, travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.

a)Attend Conference or Meeting: Media representatives who are going to the U.S. to attend conferences or meetings as a participant and will not report about the meeting, either while in the U.S. or upon their return, can travel on a visitor visa. The distinction in immigration law is whether they will be “engaging in their vocation.”

b)Guest speaking, lecturing, engaging in academic activity: When traveling for the purpose of guest speaking, lecturing, or engaging in other usual academic activity, for which they will receive an honorarium from an institution of higher education, a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, a nonprofit research organization, or a Governmental research organization, media representatives will need to travel on a visitor visa to the U.S.However, 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.

c)Purchase media equipment: A visitor visa can be used by employees to purchase U.S. media equipment or broadcast rights or take orders for foreign media equipment or broadcast rights, since they are considered
ordinary business visitors.

d) Vacation: A foreign media journalist, who does not have a media visa, can take vacation to the U.S. on a visitor visa, and would not need a media visa, as long a he/she would not be reporting on something newsworthy.


a) proofreaders, librarians, set designers.

b) persons filming the material or employees who will work on a film which will be used primarily for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes.
c) Media representatives that want to participate in the production of artistic media content (in which actors are used).TV, radio and film production companies should consult an immigration attorney that specializes in
media work for specific advice tailed to the current project.
d) Stories which are staged events, television and quiz shows. Persons working in the production such as
 - Stories that involve contrived and staged events , even when unscripted, such as reality television shows and quiz shows are not primarily informational and donot generally involve journalism.
- Documentaries involving staged recreations with actors.
                TV, radio and film production companies should consult an immigration attorney that specializes in media work for specific advice tailed to the current project.

e) Visiting the U.S. as a guest speaker or lecturer.Must obtain a visitors visa.Further details in the above section.However, a media representative who has entered the U.S. on an I-visa can perform informal free speaking
       activities as long as no fee for such activities is received. It is acceptable to receive the  reimbursement of reasonable expenses.
f) A media worker that replaces or augments American journalists reporting on U.S. events for an American audience.

-No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.

-A media visa holder can travel to the U.S. for media purposes and, as part of the trip, take a vacation in the U.S.

-If the traveler has a valid U.S. visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the U.S.

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.

Certain activities can make you ineligible for a U.S. visa. The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156 or Online Form DS-160, lists some categories 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.


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.In the absence of new evidence, consular officers are not obliged to re-examine such cases.

  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 AdmissioTAYING BEYOND YOUR AUTHORIZED STAY IN THE U.S.AND BEns/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.

- It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status.

 -Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and being out-of-status in the U.S. are violations of U.S. immigration laws. These violations may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travels to the U.S.

- According to INA 222 (g) ,if you stay on your non-immigrant authorized stay in the U.S.,your visa will be automatically voided. In this situation, you are required to re-apply for a new non-immigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.


Visitors who wish to stay beyond the date indicated on their Form I-94 are required to have approval by USCIS. See Extend Your Stay on the USCIS website.

Some nonimmigrant visa holders, while present in the U.S., are able to file a request which must be approved by USCIS to change to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website.

Important Note: Filing a request with USCIS for approval of change of status before your authorized stay expires, while you remain in the U.S., does not by itself require the visa holder to apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the U.S. while USCIS processes your change of status request, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Questions on visa application procedures and visa ineligibilities should be made to the American consular office abroad by the applicant. Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this website and also the EmbassyConsular web site abroad. Very often you will find the information you need.

If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you can choose the Embassy or Consulate Internet site you need to contact.