USCIS Policy Manual

Current as of February 12, 2019

Volume 2 - Nonimmigrants

Part K - Media Representatives (I)

Chapter 1 - Purpose and Background

A. Purpose

The foreign information media representative nonimmigrant visa classification, commonly known as the “I” visa category, is intended to be used by representatives of the foreign media, including members of the following industries:

Press;

Radio;

Film; and

Print.

In addition, certain employees of independent production companies may also be eligible for a foreign information media representative visa classification under certain conditions.

B. Background

The foreign information media representative visa classification was created by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952 [1] See Pub. L. 82-414, 66 Stat. 163, 168-169 (June 27, 1952). in order to facilitate the exchange of information among nations. Foreign information media representatives do not require a visa petition approved by USCIS. Consular officers with the U.S. Department of State primarily adjudicate benefit requests for foreign information media representatives during the nonimmigrant visa application process. USCIS generally only receives a request for this visa classification when a nonimmigrant applies for a change of status or an extension of stay as a foreign information media representative.

C. Legal Authorities

INA 101(a)(15)(I) – Representatives of foreign media

8 CFR 214.2(i) – Representatives of information media

Footnotes

1.

See Pub. L. 82-414, 66 Stat. 163, 168-169 (June 27, 1952).

 

Chapter 2 - Eligibility

A foreign media representative is a foreign national who:

Is a bona fide representative of the foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media;

Has a home office in a foreign country whose government grants reciprocity for similar privileges to representatives with home offices in the United States; and

Seeks to enter or remain in the United States solely to engage in such a vocation. [1] See 9 FAM 402.11, Information Media Representatives - I Visas. See Department of State’s website, indicating that “[a]ctivities in the United States must be informational in nature and generally associated with the news gathering process and reporting on current events.” See Chapter 3, Distinction between News and Entertainment [2 USCIS-PM K.3].

Foreign nationals who meet the above definition may be eligible for classification as a foreign information media representative. Foreign information media representative nonimmigrants are admitted for the duration of their employment with the same foreign media organization in the same information medium. Foreign information media representatives must obtain authorization from USCIS to change employers or work in a different medium. [2] See 8 CFR 214.2(i).

Independent Production Companies [3] See 9 FAM 402.11-6, Film/Video Work, for information on employees of independent production companies.

Employees of independent production companies may also be eligible for foreign information media representative nonimmigrant status if, in addition to the above:

The employee holds a credential issued by a professional journalistic association;

The film or video footage produced will be used by a foreign-based television station or other media to disseminate information or news to a foreign audience; and

The film or video footage will not be used primarily for a commercial entertainment or advertising purpose.

Footnotes

1.

See 9 FAM 402.11, Information Media Representatives - I Visas. See Department of State’s website, indicating that “[a]ctivities in the United States must be informational in nature and generally associated with the news gathering process and reporting on current events.” See Chapter 3, Distinction between News and Entertainment [2 USCIS-PM K.3].

 

2.

See 8 CFR 214.2(i).

 

3.

See 9 FAM 402.11-6, Film/Video Work, for information on employees of independent production companies.

 

Chapter 3 - Distinction between News and Entertainment

A. Entertainment and Advertising

Camera persons and other workers engaged in producing films for entertainment or advertising purposes do not qualify under the foreign information media representative visa classification and should seek another visa classification for which they may qualify. For example, a foreign national intending to work on entertainment-oriented materials may be better suited to apply for nonimmigrant status on the basis of extraordinary ability or achievement; as an entertainer; or, if applicable, on the basis of providing essential support to certain O or P nonimmigrants. [1] See INA 101(a)(15)(O) for visa classification based on extraordinary ability or achievement (O visa category). See INA 101(a)(15)(P) for visa classification based on being an entertainer (P visa category).

Even if a camera person or other workers receive no payment from sources in the United States and the film or video footage produced is solely for foreign distribution as entertainment or advertisement, applicants under such circumstances may not qualify under the foreign information media representative visa classification.

B. Nonfiction Documentaries

Increasingly, because of the growing popularity of documentary-type biographies and similar nonfiction film productions, the distinction between commercial filmmaking for entertainment and genuine news gathering is less clear. For example, filmed biographies may be regarded as documentary filmmaking or as news gathering. In adjudicating such cases, the officer should consider whether the intended use is journalistic, informational, or educational, as opposed to entertainment. The officer should also consider the foreign distribution of the film or video footage in addition to other factors, including the timeliness of the project relative to the subject event.

C. Intended Use

An officer should examine the type of organization that employs the foreign information media representative and the proposed foreign distribution of the film or other produced material. Applicants should not use the foreign information media representative visa classification as a way of avoiding mandatory consultation required to obtain visa classification on the basis of extraordinary ability or achievement or as an entertainer. [2] See 8 CFR 214.2(o)(5). See 8 CFR 214.2(p)(7).

Footnotes

1.

See INA 101(a)(15)(O) for visa classification based on extraordinary ability or achievement (O visa category). See INA 101(a)(15)(P) for visa classification based on being an entertainer (P visa category).

 

2.

See 8 CFR 214.2(o)(5). See 8 CFR 214.2(p)(7).

 

Chapter 4 - Family Members

A foreign information media representative’s spouse and unmarried children (under age 21) may accompany the foreign media representative and be admitted under the “I” nonimmigrant visa classification. [1] Note that there is no separate classification for dependents of foreign media representative nonimmigrants (for example, there is no I-2 classification). See codes of admission in Chapter 5, Adjudication, Section B, Approvals [2 USCIS-PM K.5(B)]. If approved, such dependents may attend school in the United States without changing to F-1 nonimmigrant student status. However, the dependents are not authorized to work in the United States while in the foreign information media representative dependent status.

Footnotes

1.

Note that there is no separate classification for dependents of foreign media representative nonimmigrants (for example, there is no I-2 classification). See codes of admission in Chapter 5, Adjudication, Section B, Approvals

[2 USCIS-PM K.5(B)].

 

Chapter 5 - Adjudication

A. Extension of Stay or Change of Status

USCIS officers may receive an application for a change of status to that of a foreign information media representative nonimmigrant, or a request from a foreign information media representative nonimmigrant to change employers or information medium.

The applicant applies for a change of status or extension of stay by filing an Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539) together with evidence of current status and evidence from the employing media organization describing the employment and establishing that the applicant is a bona fide representative of that foreign media organization.

When reviewing a Form I-539 application involving a foreign information media representative, the officer must ensure the applicant:

Meets or continues to meet all the eligibility requirements for the foreign information media representative visa classification;

Is admissible to the United States; [1] See INA 248(a). See 8 CFR 214.1(a)(3)(i). See Volume 8, Admissibility [8 USCIS-PM]. and

Has not violated any terms or conditions of his or her current nonimmigrant status. [2] See 8 CFR 214.2(i). See 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4) and 8 CFR 248.1(b).

B. Approvals

If the applicant properly filed the Form I-539 application, meets all the eligibility requirements, and satisfies all the admission requirements, the officer may approve the application.

The table below provides a list of the classifications for foreign information media representatives. The code of admission is “I-1” for all eligible classes of applicants.

Classes of Applicants & Corresponding Codes of Admission

Applicant

Code of Admission

Foreign Information Media Representative (Principal)

I-1

Spouse of a Principal Foreign Information Media Representative

I-1

Child of a Principal Foreign Information Media Representative

I-1

C. Denials, Motions to Reopen, and Motions to Reconsider

If the applicant does not provide sufficient evidence to establish eligibility for status as a foreign information media representative, the officer prepares a denial notice explaining the specific reasons for the denial. If USCIS denies an application, the applicant may file a Motion to Reopen and/or Reconsider (Form I-290B).

There is no appeal from a denial of an application to change status or extend stay as a foreign information media representative. [3] See 8 CFR 214.1(c)(5). See 8 CFR 248.3(g). In certain situations, USCIS may certify the matter to the Administrative Appeals Office. [4] See 8 CFR 103.4.

Footnotes

1.

See INA 248(a). See 8 CFR 214.1(a)(3)(i). See Volume 8, Admissibility [8 USCIS-PM].

 

2.

See 8 CFR 214.2(i). See 8 CFR 214.1(c)(4) and 8 CFR 248.1(b).

 

3.

See 8 CFR 214.1(c)(5). See 8 CFR 248.3(g).

 

4.

See 8 CFR 103.4.

 

Appendices

Updates

POLICY ALERT – Media Representatives (I) Nonimmigrant Visa Classification

November 10, 2015

​U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance regarding the foreign information media representative nonimmigrant visa classification, commonly known as the “I” visa category.