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I Representatives of Foreign Media

You may be eligible for the I, Representatives of Foreign Media, nonimmigrant visa, if you:

  • Represent a foreign information media outlet (press, radio, film, or other foreign information media)
  • Are coming to the United States to engage solely in this profession; and
  • Have a home office in a foreign country

Occupations under this category include reporters, film crews, editors, and similar occupations. Any spouse and children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow to join an I nonimmigrant.

Eligibility Criteria

You must demonstrate that you are a bona fide representative of foreign media whose activities are essential to the functions of your organization. The consular officer at the U.S. embassy will determine whether an activity is qualifying in order to obtain a nonimmigrant visa.

Application Process

You can apply for an I visa at an American Embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. The Department of State establishes visa application processing and issuance fees. For detailed application instructions, see the link to the Department of State’s website to the right.

As a representative of foreign media, you cannot travel to the U.S. and engage in your profession without an I nonimmigrant visa, even if you are a citizen of a country that participates in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you attempt to travel to the U.S. without the appropriate visa, you may be denied admission by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the port of entry (airport, seaport, or land border). There are limited instances under which you, as a foreign media representative, may be eligible to travel with a visitor’s visa. See the link to the Department of State’s website to the right for more information.

Period of Stay

At the port of entry, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer will determine if you can be admitted to the United States. The Officer will review and stamp Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which will contain your authorized period of stay.  Admission as an I nonimmigrant is generally authorized for the duration of status (i.e., D/S on Form I-94), and no application for extension of stay is required to be filed as long as the media representative continues working for the same employer in the same information medium. If Form I-94 indicates a specific end date for your authorized period of stay, and you wish to stay beyond that specified end date, you must file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, in accordance with the form filing instructions, and submit any required evidence and applicable fees.

Requesting Change of Status to I Nonimmigrant or Change of Employer or Information Medium

If you are currently in the United States and wish to request a change of status from another nonimmigrant classification to an I nonimmigrant status, or if you currently hold I status and wish to request a change of employer or information medium, you must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status in accordance with the form filing instructions and with the proper fees.  Your application should be accompanied by evidence of your current status and a letter from the employing foreign media organization describing the employment and establishing the fact that the applicant is a representative of that media organization.

Family of I Visa Holders

Any accompanying or following-to-join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an I nonimmigrant visa. If your spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, they must submit a copy of your I nonimmigrant visa with their application. Your spouse and children are not eligible to work with an I nonimmigrant visa, but can study in the United States without applying for an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa. If your spouse and children only intend to visit for vacation and do not intend to reside with you in the United States, they may travel to the United States with a B-2 nonimmigrant visa, or travel without a nonimmigrant visa if they qualify under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). For additional information about the VWP, see the link to the Department of State’s website to the right.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/18/2011