Media visa type I

Representatives of foreign media are eligible for a type I media visa if they meet certain admissibility requirements. This visa is specially designed for foreign journalists who want to travel to the United States for work purposes.

The I or media visa is applied for through the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application form. The applicant must be an accredited foreign journalist, who needs to come to the U.S. to work in professional activities. Also, you must have been hired abroad by a media company.


If you or a family member needs advice on this type of visa for the United States, do not hesitate to contact us. The immigration lawyers of Lluis Law in Los Angeles have over 40 years experience of legal practice. We process visas, adjustments of statusconsular procedures and any other immigration matter.

So, what is a type I media visa?

The I media visa is essentially a work visa for a foreign journalist professional. However, it is a non-immigrant visa that only authorizes the permanence in the country for a certain time.

It is awarded to media related professionals who carry out activities considered essential for the foreign environment in which they work. An example is the news agency reporter and staff.

In addition to editors and reporters, the foreign journalist visa of type I also includes other media workers. That is, editors, cameramen, photographers, as well as workers in the graphic and film industry.

Media companies are those that are dedicated to the collection, analysis and dissemination of information. Likewise, those that produce or distribute audiovisual material (videos and films) for news purposes.

Both print media (newspapers and magazines) and digital media (websites), television and radio fall into this category.

Visa I allows its holders to be accompanied by their spouses and children or to travel and join them later.

Requirements for media visa I in 2020

An application must be sent electronically to the consulate / embassy of the country where you have your residence. To process an I visa, the following steps must be followed:

  • Complete and sign Form DS-156, Application for a non-immigrant visa.
  • Fill out Form DS-157, Supplemental Application for Nonimmigrant Visa, if you have an accompanying family member.
  • Present a valid passport to travel to the USA with a validity longer than six months after the period of stay in the country has expired.
  • 2 × 2 inch size photograph.
  • Employment cover letter or proof signed by the company for which you work. The document must describe the applicant’s own work activities and remaining time in the United States.
  • Schedule the date of the interview with the consular officer at the embassy headquarters.
  • Pay the respective visa fees.

Journalists traveling to the United States for work reasons must present the appropriate visa for these cases. If you are traveling on a different visa, the immigration officer is likely to refuse entry.

Eligibility criteria for obtaining a visa I

First and foremost, it is to demonstrate that the applicant represents a foreign press media outlet. On the other hand, there is the need to obtain the I visa to cover essential activities related to the company.

In evaluating the application, the immigration officer at the US embassy will determine if the request proceeds or not. For this, it takes into account the company for which the applicant works and the relevance and importance of his work.

Who is eligible for an I visa?

Journalists and other media workers are eligible for an I visa if:

  • They represent a media company (press, radio, television, cinema, and any other foreign media).
  • He comes to the United States to carry out his profession for a foreign company.
  • The company he works for has its headquarters abroad.
foreign journalist with visa I

How long does a media type I visa last?

The media visa is generally granted for a period of one year and can be extended for one more year. In any case, it will depend on the time requested at the time of applying for this visa.

Can I get an I visa being a freelance journalist?

Independent journalists can also apply for this visa. However, they must demonstrate that they have an independent employment contract with a media organization. They must also submit a cover letter from the media company specifying:

  • Applicant’s name.
  • Purpose of visit to the United States.
  • Length of stay in the country.
  • Duration of the independent contract.

Workers at independent production companies can also apply for an I visa while developing an information project. To apply for the visa they need to demonstrate that:

  • They have a position in the independent production company.
  • The program / film they develop is informative in terms of content.
  • Specify the period within which they will be recording in the United States.

If the film or project is for commercial purposes or entertainment (reality shows), this visa is not appropriate.

If I work for a U.S. media company abroad, can I apply for an I visa?

Foreign journalists working for a U.S. media company cannot apply for an I visa. Except when they come to the USA for working purposes to cover events or collect information for a foreign news agency.

The informational / news content must also be shown to be for a branch of the U.S. company abroad. Communication professionals who come to the USA to cover events for the American public do not qualify. They may be qualified for other visas, but not for the I visa.

What happens when the assignment in the USA extends?

Foreign journalists can stay in the United States without the need to extend the visa. They can also change the declaration related to the length of stay in the country. This is done through Form I-94, Arrival / Departure Record.

The I visa will be valid as long as the journalist works for the same media company and carries out journalistic work. If you want to change your nonimmigrant status to apply for a different visa category, you must file Form 1-539. It is also useful to request the extension of status.

When you want to extend your stay because you have switched your job (also to a foreign media company), they can extend your status. However, if your new employer is an American media company, I media visa is not appropriate.

Can I bring my family to the USA while I’m assigned there?

Yes. Foreign journalists with an I visa can bring their spouse and children under the age of 21. However, certain restrictions similar to those of other types of non-immigrant visas apply.

One of the most important is that the spouse cannot work during their stay. Although it has the benefit that the spouse and children can study in the United States. Consequently, none are required to apply for an student visa F-1.

When family members do not travel with the I visa holder and do so later on vacation, the I visa is also not appropriate.

I-2 derivative visas for spouses and children

Husbands / wives and children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany the holder need an I-2 derived visa. The requirement is that couples must have a legal marriage to qualify.

The basic requirements for this visa are the same as for the visa holder and you must add the following:

  • Marriage certification.
  • Children’s birth certificate.
  • Attend the interview with the consular officer at the embassy headquarters on the scheduled date. It may be the same day that it is the applicant’s 1st visa, if they applied for the visa together.
  • Submit Form DS-157 and Form DS-156 to each applicant separately.

If you need legal help for this type of visa or want to know how to obtain the Green Card more expeditiously, contact us. Our Lluis Law immigration attorneys offer you a free, no-obligation consultation. They are expert professionals who have successfully advised and represented hundreds of immigrants in the Los Angeles area.