Getting USA Journalist Visa (I-visa)
If you are a media or film industry member, you need a special visa to work professionally in the United States. In this article, we will explain what an I is, which is issued to employees of foreign media. Please note that a Category I visa is also required for journalists from countries with a visa-free agreement with America. You will learn what documents you need to collect to obtain it and how to apply for a U.S. visa.
Table of contents
- USA Media (I) visa features
- USA I visa requirements
- Documents required for I visa application
- How to apply for the I visa?
- Get a photo for a USA visa application online
- Visafoto features
USA Media (I) visa features
A journalist visa is issued to media professionals who come to the United States to work for a certain period.
Visa I is available to the following categories of employees:
- Journalists and reporters;
- Camera operators;
- Other employees of the press, cinema, radio, if they are directly related to news production.
The relatives of media personnel are entitled to a derivative visa. It is available to spouses and unmarried children under 21. When obtaining a U.S. visa, relatives may accompany the visa holder throughout the trip. If the spouse and children do not accompany the I visa holder but want to visit them, they need a B2 visa (tourist visa). They will not be able to work in the United States.
Please note that if you are a photographer and your activity is paid for outside the U.S., a regular B1/B2 tourist visa will suffice.
USA I visa requirements
To obtain a U.S. media visa, the applicant must meet one of the following parameters:
- Make documentaries or news stories;
- Make and distribute films that are not funded by a U.S. source;
- Work under contract with a professional organization to produce a socially valuable product that is not directly for advertising or entertainment;
- Engage in production, but under documents from a professional journalism organization;
- Distribute production information for subsidiaries or foreign affiliates of U.S. media outlets.
If you are a freelance journalist, you will need to provide professional documents and up-to-date media contracts.
Note that the journalist visa is primarily for news and social information work. If you are taking part in shooting feature films and commercials, you will need to apply for a temporary work visa of another category.
Documents required for I visa application
To apply for a journalist visa, a media representative must provide the following documentation:
- Completed electronic nonimmigrant visa application form DS-160;
- A passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry into the United States;
- A receipt for payment of the consular fee;
- U.S. visa photo (51 x 51 mm);
- Proof of employment. Staff media members should bring a certificate of employment. It must indicate the purpose of the trip to the U.S., the position in the company, and the full name of the specialist.
If a freelance journalist who works with the media on a temporary contract applies for a visa, they must provide a copy of this document. It must include the journalist’s name and surname, position, the period of the contract, and the purpose and duration of the trip to the States.
A film crew member must provide a certificate of employment, indicating their name and surname, position in the company, a brief description of the created plot or program, and the purpose and duration of the trip to the United States.
If a person goes to make a documentary film, story, or program and performs the order under the contract with the media, they must provide a letter from the company. The document must include the applicant's name, the title and a brief description of the story, the period of the contract, and the duration of the work in the States.
In addition, you must provide an invitation letter for an interview. You can sign up here.
How to apply for the I visa?
First, you need to pay the consular fee, fill out the DS-160 application form and make an appointment for an interview. For the appointment you will need:
- Passport number;
- A receipt for the consular fee. The USA I visa cost is US$160;
- A 10-digit barcode from the DS-160 application confirmation page.
You must come to the U.S. Consulate at the appointed time with a documentation package, which includes:
- Invitation letter for an interview;
- DS-160 confirmation page;
- Up-to-date US visa photo;
- A valid passport and all previously issued passports.
Get a photo for a USA visa application online
Along with the documentation package, you must submit a photo that meets the following criteria:
- The US visa pic must be in color, with no frames or corners;
- The head must be entirely in the frame;
- There must be space between the top of the head and the edge of the photo;
- The face must 70% of the image;
- Glasses are prohibited, even for vision;
- Headgear is permitted on religious grounds. Hats, caps, etc. are forbidden.
Here is an example:
There is a range of other U.S. visa photo specifications, such as the distance from the eye line to the bottom edge, the face ratio, the color correction, brightness, and contrast. The photo should be taken in a professional photo studio or with the help of a specialized service.
We suggest using the online program Visafoto. This is the most accessible and most convenient option!
The program automatically:
- Adjusts image to the required size;
- Adjusts the desired resolution;
- Adjusts brightness, contrast;
- Changes the background of any color to the plain light;
- Aligns facial proportions and performs a number of other actions with your photo.
Visafoto's has been around since 2013, allowing users from anywhere to take instant photos for any type of document. You just need to upload your full-face portrait to the program. In a couple of seconds, download your processed U.S. visa photo, suitable both for printing and online submission.
First, take a photo of yours under daylight like this one:
You will have two types of photos: a digital one for electronic applications and another one suitable for printing.
Here they are:
Visafoto pictures are accepted in 99.7% of cases. Appreciate its capabilities!