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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 a U.S. 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 Department of State’s website.

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 Department of State’s website for more information.

Period of Stay

At the port of entry, a U.S. 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.

Alert: On May 11, 2020, DHS’ U.S. Customs and Border Protection published a final rule limiting the maximum period of stay for I nonimmigrants from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Under this rule, eligible I nonimmigrants from the PRC (with the exception of I nonimmigrants holding Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Macau SAR passports) may be admitted or granted I nonimmigrant status only for the period necessary to accomplish the authorized purpose of their stay in the United States, not to exceed 90 days.

If you are an I nonimmigrant in this category wishing to stay in the United States to continue your I activities beyond the date specified on your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, you must request an extension of stay by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for a period necessary to complete your I activities, not to exceed 90 days. You may submit multiple, sequential, timely-filed extension of stay requests, for extensions of up to 90 days if you can demonstrate activities or assignments consistent with the I classification for the requested period(s). You may remain in the United States while your timely-filed extension of stay application is pending. If you depart the United States while your extension of stay application is pending, USCIS may deny your request.

In terms of employment while your timely-filed extension of stay application is pending, you may continue your I employment with the same employer and in the same medium for 90 days (or the period of time you requested if it is less than 90 days) from the date your Form I-94 expired. As a general guideline, you must stop working if more than 90 days have passed since your Form I-94 has expired and your timely-filed extension of stay application remains pending. You may resume employment if the pending application is approved, but only for the length of time remaining from that application. At any time after the expiration of your Form I-94, the denial of an extension of stay application requires you to cease work activities and depart the United States immediately.

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 you are 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 Department of State’s website.

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