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USA I-Visa Guide for Journalists and Media Workers

United States of America has made I Visa to support the media and spreading of news around the world. This visa allows journalists to complete their work while in the US. Moreover, the I Visa or journalist visa is a work visa for employees in the media, press and radio sectors who are temporarily in the USA for journalistic purposes within the scope of their work.

Therefore, this article is designed to guide you through the application process, inform you about the requirements, and eligibility for this I Visa.

What is I Visa in U.S.A?

The I visa is a nonimmigrant visa for the foreign media representatives who wish to temporarily enter and reside in the US
to pursue their profession.
In other words, an I visa is a temporary US visa for all journalists and other media workers who go to the US with the purpose of doing jobs related to the media. This means that they are actively engaged in collecting and disseminating information on current news events in the US.

However, they must be employed in a media company or organization which is based outside the US.
Those who have the I visa must only be engaged in informational activities and gather news. However, they are also allowed to enroll in some university courses. The I visa holder cannot enroll in a full academic program, and will also not be allowed to work for a US company

Requirements for I Visa in U.S

To acquire the I Visa, you should have the following requirements for a smooth processing. Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States: Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person who needs a visa must submit a separate application.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview
  • Photo: You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • A journalist working under contract or freelance to a foreign media organization will need to present a valid contract of employment.
  • An employee of an independent production company, will need to present a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.

The above criteria that applicants must fulfill is related to their occupation. This means that they must be working in a position as described above. So you must be a representative of a foreign media organization and must be gathering news. Other than that, there are no other requirements to get the I visa.

Eligibilities for I Visa

To be eligible for an this Visa, the applicants should have these qualities.

  • A person who works in an independent production company with foreign journalistic credentials.
  • This person must be filming events related to current news or a documentary.
  • A person who is producing or distributing film that’s related to current news information or is educational.
  • The film must be financed by a company outside the US.
  • Journalists with a contract from a foreign media or journalistic company.
  • These journalists must be collecting news that is used to inform and not for commercial purposes.
  • Journalists going to the US to collect news information about an event happening in the US.
  • The news information must be targeted to a foreign audience.
  • A representative of a bureau of tourism who has valid accreditation.
  • The representative’s company must be partially funded by a foreign government.
  • And the purpose of the visit must be to collect touristic information about the US.

Other Eligibilities are:

  • A person who works in a company which distributes technical industrial information.
  • This person can then work in the US offices of that company.
  • Journalistic freelancers who have a valid work contract from a foreign media company.
  • The freelancer must be engaged in any of the above mentioned work. They should work to collect and disseminate information.
  • Those workers who do not qualify under these categories must get a different type of visa like O2 Visa or L1 Visa, instead of the I visa.
  • Attending conferences, meetings, seminars, or conventions. You must not be in the role of the reporter for such events, but only a participant.
  • You will lecture, speak, or engage in an academic activity in a higher education institution. This activity must not last longer than 9 days for one institution.
  • Your payment must not be from more than 5 institutions.
  • You will be on vacation or take a trip throughout the US and not report on this trip
  • And you will conduct independent research
  • You will take photographs and not be paid for them from a US company.

5 Best Steps to Apply for I Visa

There are 5 best steps to apply for this visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary in the U.S.

  1. Fill in Form DS-160 Submit a photograph which fulfills the Photo Requirements.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Schedule your visa interview.
  4. Prepare your document file.
  5. Attend your visa interview.

#1. Fill in Form DS-160

You need to fill in your personal information, purpose of visit, and anything else required. At the end, when you submit the form, you will be given a confirmation page and code, which you will need later on. Then submit a photograph which fulfills the Photo Requirements.

#2. Pay the application fee

This fee for the I visa is $160 and is non-refundable no matter what the decision of the US Embassy is. Besides the application fee, you might be required to pay additional fees such as reciprocity or visa issuance fees. These fees depend on your home country and its relationship with the US. When you have paid all the necessary fees, make sure to save your receipts as you will need them later.

#3. Schedule your visa interview

All visa applicants between 14 and 79 years old must attend a visa interview with the US Embassy. To have this interview, you must first schedule it. Since there might be a heavy workload in the US Embassy, it is important to schedule this interview as soon as possible to avoid long wait times. After you have made your appointment, you will get a visa appointment letter, which you will attach to your documents on the day of your interview.

#4. Prepare your document file

You will need a file with the necessary documents for your I visa, which will support your request for this visa. You will bring the following documents below with you to the interview.

  • Your valid passport
  • Form DS-160 confirmation page
  • Receipts which prove you have paid all applicable fees
  • Your visa appointment letter
  • Letter from your employer describing the purpose of your stay in the US which must fall into the I visa activities. Note that the letter should detail your length of stay, and duration of your work contract, as well as your personal information.
  • Your qualifications which ensure you fall into this visa category:
  • Work contracts
  • Journalistic accreditations
  • Press card
  • Past published articles
  • Medical documents proving you are in good health
  • Documents proving you have no past criminal record

#5. Attend your visa interview

During the interview, a US Embassy official will ask you questions regarding your character, your health, any past criminal offenses, past US visas you have had, your purpose of visit, and other related questions. You must answer everything truthfully and not try to hide any details. The official will have almost made a decision at the end of your interview, but you will have to wait for the process to get your answer.


What is the I visa processing time?

After you go through the interview process, you will have to wait for your visa to be processed. Generally, the I visa is processed within 10 days after your application. However, this time varies depending on the workload of the Embassy. You will receive a letter letting you know whether you got the visa or not.

If your visa was approved, then you can start making arrangements for your visit. If it was denied, you can ask for clarifications, repeal the decision, or apply again. However, even if you get the visa, you have no guarantee that you will be allowed to go into the US. The decision whether to let you in the US or not is up to the immigration officers at any US port of entry.

How long is the I visa valid?

6 months. Not more than a year at first, usually six months. You can apply for extensions of stay in six-month increments if your reasons are consistent with the terms and conditions of your original status.

Can I extend My I Visa?

Yes you can. But before that, you must depart from United States on or before the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94, unless your request to extend your stay is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Before your time is up, you can request for an extension if you are still working on the strategies given to you.

Can I renew my I Visa?

Yes, whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your visa, you will use the same application process. Some applicants seeking to renew their visas in certain visa classes may be eligible for the Interview Waiver Program (IWP).
This program allows you to apply and get Visa without any interview.

Can my dependents accompany me with an I visa?

You are allowed to bring your dependents when you have an I visa. Dependents are your spouse and your unmarried children under 21 years old. They can apply at the same time as you or after you get your visa.

To apply they must submit proof of a relationship, such as a marriage certificate and other marriage ceremony documents for the spouse, and valid birth certificates for the children. Also, if the dependents apply after you have gotten your visa, they must also submit a copy of your valid I visa.

With an I visa, your dependents will be allowed to enroll in academic study, but cannot work any jobs. Also, if you extend your visa or change your status, your dependents must also do the same to remain in the US.

How long can you stay in the US on an I visa?

6 months. No more than a year at first, usually six months. You can apply for extensions of stay in six-month increments if your reasons are consistent with the terms and conditions of your original status.


Go for this Visa if you are a journalist and comfortably work in United States of America. Otherwise, there are other Visas like O3 Visa, O1 Visa you can apply for.

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