Visas for Members of the Foreign Media, Press, and Radio
Important Notice: Same-sex Marriage
Effective immediately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite gender spouses. Please reference the specific guidance on the visa category for which you are applying for more details on documentation required for derivative spouses.
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Media (I) visas are for representatives of the foreign media, including members of the press, radio, film, and print industries, traveling temporarily to the United States to work in their profession engaged in informational or educational media activities, essential to the foreign media function. Activities in the United States while on a media (I) visa must be for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country. Activities in the United States must be informational in nature and generally associated with the news gathering process and reporting on current events.
Travel purposes which require a Media (I) Visa – Examples:
- An employee of foreign information media or employee of an independent production company having a credential issued by a professional journalistic association engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
- A member of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film, if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information, news, or is educational in nature. The primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the United States.
- A journalist working under contract with a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working on a product to disseminate information or news that is not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising.
- A foreign journalist working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper, or other media outlet, if traveling to the United States to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
- An accredited representative of a tourist bureau, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engages primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who is not entitled to receive an A-2 visa as a foreign government official or employee.
- An employee of an organization that distributes technical industrial information who will work in the U.S. office of that organization.
Working Media Cannot Travel on the Visa Waiver Program or with Visitor Visas
Representatives of the foreign media who will work in their profession as media or journalists while in the United States cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program or on visitor (B) visas.
When Can a Visitor Visa Be Used Instead of a Media Visa – Examples:
- Attend a conference or meeting as a participant, as long as you will not report about the conference or meeting while in the United States or upon return to your home country.
- Guest speak, lecture, or engage in an academic activity for which you will receive an honorarium from an institution of higher education, a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, a nonprofit research organization, or a governmental research organization. The speaking activity must not last longer than nine days at a single institution, and you must not have received payment from more than five institutions or organizations for such activities in the last six months.
- Take a vacation, as long as you will not be working or reporting during your trip.
- Citizens of Visa Waiver Program participating countries may be able to travel to attend a conference, lecture or take a vacation (See the above examples), on the Visa Waiver Program instead of a visitor (B) visa.
Some travel purposes require a temporary worker visa, not a media (I) visa
While certain activities clearly qualify for the media visa, since they are informational and news gathering, others require a temporary worker petition-based type visa, such as the H, O, or P visa. SelectTemporary Worker to go to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS website to learn about temporary worker requirements and procedures for filing the petition, which must be approved by USCIS, prior to applying for the visa.