I Visa for Representatives of Foreign Press and Media

The I visa allows members of the foreign press and other foreign “information media representatives” to enter the United States in order to work in this vocation. While this nonimmigrant category is not as broad and versatile as some other employment-based statuses, such as H1B, it provides an important option for journalists and other qualifying media representatives. This niche visa category also highlights the priority Americans place on having a free press.

General Requirements for I Status

In order to qualify for I status, an applicant must be “a bona fide representative of the foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media.” This includes any foreign national employed by a foreign media organization seeking to enter the United States on behalf of that organization.

The category also applies to a freelancer contracted by a foreign media organization, or an employee of an independent production company. However, such an individual must have credentials issued by a professional journalistic association from the respective country of origin, if a relevant credentialing authority exists.

Must Represent Foreign Media that Offers Similar Treatment for U.S. Media Reps

The media organization’s home office must be located abroad in a country that offers reciprocal treatment for U.S. media representatives. If the organization has offices or a subsidiary in the United States, it may be possible for the applicant to enter as an employee of the local office, but only if her/his work will be primarily for the benefit of the foreign organization.

Category Not Restricted to Journalists

Although the I nonimmigrant visa category certainly can be used by reporters and journalists, it can also be used by foreign nationals who work in certain other positions “essential to the foreign information media function.” For instance, an editor for a documentary may qualify for an I visa. However, this would apply only to a foreign national engaged in the production or distribution of educational or informational film or video. A person working on media mainly intended for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes typically would not qualify for I status.


The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. In a way, the I nonimmigrant category helps to promote this American ideal throughout the globe. Media representatives who have questions about this category are encouraged to “consult” <https://www.murthy.com/consultations/> with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.

While some aspects of immigration have changed in significant ways in the years since MurthyDotCom began publishing articles in 1994, there is much that is still the same. From time to time, clients of the Murthy Law Firm are referred to articles, like this one, which remains relevant and has been updated for our readers.


Copyright © 2014-2020, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved


Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.