What is an I Visa?


If you are a foreign employee of the media, press, or a radio station who needs to come to the United States to work on a story, then the I Visa is the right visa for you. 

Here’s what you need to know about this visa category. 

Applying for an I Visa

You can apply for an I Visa if:

  • You are a journalist traveling temporarily for temporary purposes. 
  • You can prove you work for a foreign media company, or, if you’re a freelancer, have a contract with a media company outside the United States. 
  • You have a press card. 
  • You can prove you have sufficient financial means to cover your stay.

Spouses and children under the age of 21 may accompany the I visa holder to the United States on visas of their own. They won’t be authorized to work in the United States, but they may attend school.

You cannot travel to the United States to create advertisements, to search for work, or to do projects for the entertainment industry. 

You must apply for an I Visa at a United States consulate before you come to the United States. 

Processing Times for I Visas

Plan ahead with your media organization, because processing can take 3 to 5 weeks. Thus, these visas are generally not the best visas for hot, fast news stories. They’re better for longer, ongoing situations or for documentary projects.

If you need to get into the United States for a shorter news cycle story, you may need a different kind of visa that works a little faster.

How long does an I Visa last? 

It depends on the anticipated length of the project. They last for a maximum of five years, but that doesn’t mean you’ll receive a 5-year visa for every single projects

If there is a reason why your project may need more time, you may file Form I-539 to apply for an extension of stay. Extensions don’t last longer than 90 days, but you can submit multiple, sequential, timely-filed extension of stay requests. 

Your visa will have a Duration of Stay listed on the visa. You must pay attention to this date.

Finally, if you leave the foreign media organization the I visa will no longer be valid and will need to leave the United States. 

Get Help Today 

Our office helps professionals around the world navigate the visa process so that they can pursue their goals in the United States. 

Smooth the process by reaching out to our law office today. 

See also

What is a Dual Intent Visa?

How Much Money Do You Need to Immigrate to the United States?

How to Appeal a Visa Denial

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