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Members of foreign media organizations may wish to travel to the United States to live and work on a temporary basis for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for a broadcaster, reporter, editor, film crew or other media member may come to the United States is to report on breaking news. However, reporting on ongoing events is far from the only reason why a foreign new organization would express interest in having employees working in the United States.

Many affiliated members of foreign media organizations can be admitted to temporarily live and work in the United States. However, the I visa is only intended for certain narrow purposes. Organizations and individuals that apply for an I visa should ensure that their purposes are in-line with the requirements of and purposes for the I visa.

An I Visa is Appropriate Only for Informational & News Gathering Activities

There are three general requirements an individual must be able to satisfy in order to qualify for an I visa. First, the individual must represent the foreign media which includes print, radio, film and other foreign media outlets. Second, the individual must be coming to the United States solely for the purposes of engaging in the media role or profession. Third, the media organization must have a home office based in a foreign nation. There is an array of purposes and tasks where an I visa is required. These include:

  • Journalist contracted & credentialed by a professional journalism organization who is producing content containing information and news.
  • A member of the media working to produce or distribute a foreign-funded film that is intended to disseminate information, news, or educational content.
  • An employee of a independent production company endeavoring to film a new event, current event, or a documentary.
  • Accredited employees of tourist bureaus associated with a foreign government whose primary purpose is to provide factual information about the country for tourists.
  • A foreign journalist working in the United States and reporting for a foreign audience.

One exception to the general principles expressed above is that media representatives intending to cover the United Nations do not require an I visa. The visa is only valid for the original employer. Furthermore, media organizational representatives who no longer have or hold duties that are essentially informational in nature – such as advertising or other commercial media ventures – are no longer eligible for the I visa. Additionally, it is essential to note that media organization representatives who will work in their information or news gathering capacity while in the United States are forbidden from entering the country on the basis of the Visa Waiver Program or through a temporary visitor visa (B visa).

L-1 Visa Holder application for emplyment

How Long is an I Representative of the Foreign Media Organization Permitted to Stay?

Typically an I visa is issued for a single year at a time. Extensions can be requested on an annual basis and there is no limit of the number of times an individual can renew this temporary visa. However, the timing of your renewal can be particularly important. If the visa has already expired, renewal and revalidation of the visa cannot be completed while the media representative remains in the United States. Therefore, it is essential for the visa renewal to be handled properly or the individual will be forced to leave the U.S. for the `renewal.

Can Family Members Follow an I Visa Holder?

While the I visa only confers temporary authorization to live and work in the United States, it can permit certain family members to accompany the visa holder to the United States. Derivative I visas are available for the spouse and children who have yet to reach 21 years of age. If the visa holder wishes to have a fiancé, fiancée, in-laws, parents, or other family members to accompany them, the I visa, unfortunately, does not permit this.

family together for eb-3 visa

Rely on our Immigration Experience

The strategic immigration attorneys of Colombo & Hurd are dedicated to assisting companies, organizations, and individuals achieve their immigration goals. To schedule a confidential legal consultation to discuss your foreign media organization’s employment-based immigration needs, call our firm at 800-659-7142 or contact us online.

Rusten Hurd

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