I Visa

Are you a foreign media journalist or a member of the press, radio, film or print industries? Are there current news events occurring in the United States that you need to cover?

If you answered “Yes” to the questions above, then you may be able to obtain an I visa (or media visa). The I visa (or media visa) is a nonimmigrant visa for representatives of the foreign media temporarily traveling to the U.S. The applicant must be coming to the U.S. solely to engage in their profession and must also maintain his or her home office in a foreign country. For example, if you are working for a foreign newspaper company and you would like to come to the U.S. to cover a certain current event, then the I visa can allow you to succeed in your mission.


Applicants must demonstrate that they are suitably qualified for a media visa as a “representative of the foreign media.” As previously mentioned, media visas are usually issued to members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the functioning of the foreign media. This includes reporters, film crews, editors, and persons in similar occupations engaged in qualifying activities. The activity of the applicant must basically be for the purpose of obtaining information and generally connected with gathering news and reporting on actual current events. Some examples of qualifying activities are traveling to the U.S. to cover the Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, or the Super Bowl. An applicant must apply for the I visa before entry into the U.S., the Consular officer determines whether or not an activity of the foreign national qualifies for the I visa.


The following is a list of typical media activities, which are covered under this category:

  • Filming of a news event or documentary by employees of foreign information media;

  • Production or distribution of film (funded by non-U.S. sources) used to disseminate information or news;

  • Working on a product to be used abroad by information or cultural medium for distribution of news, not primarily for commercial entertainment or advertising, by journalists contracted by a professional journalistic organization;

  • Work by independent production company employees holding credentials issued by a professional journalistic association;

  • Reporting on U.S. events for a foreign audience by foreign journalists working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media;

  • Distribution of factual tourist information about a foreign country by accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, which are controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government;

  • Employees who work in U.S. offices of foreign organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.

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