I-Visas - Members of the Media
Representatives of the foreign media traveling on assignment to the United States require "I" classification visas. They are not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program or enter the United States on B-1 business visas. Those who attempt to do so may be denied admission to the United States by immigration authorities at the port of entry. Important: Please note that freelance journalists will only be considered for the I visa classification if they are under contract to a media organization.
Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film, including employees of independent production companies, will qualify for I classification visas only if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Definition of the term representative of the foreign media includes, but is not limited to, members of the press, radio, or film whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations. It is important to note that only those whose activities are generally associated with journalism qualify for the I classification visa. People involved in associated activities such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers, etc. will require O, P or H visas.
While certain activities clearly qualify for I classification visa as they are informational in content, many do not and must be considered in the full context of their particular case. In making the determination as to whether or not an activity qualifies for the I classification visa, we focus on two issues: is the activity essentially informational, and is it generally associated with the news gathering process. As a general rule, stories that report on events, including sports events, are essentially informational and are usually appropriate I classification visa activities. Stories that involve contrived and staged events, even when unscripted, such as reality television shows, and quiz shows are not primarily informational and do not generally involve journalism. Similarly documentaries involving staged recreations with actors are also not considered informational. Members of the team working on such productions will not qualify for I classification visas. They will require the appropriate employment-based (O, P or H) visas.
T/U (S) aka the "snitch" visa
The S visa may be available to persons who assist U.S. law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and terrorist activities. These visas are rare. The petitioner in an S visa case must be the law enforcement agency with which the alien is cooperating. There are two categories of S visas for foreign national informants possessing critical, reliable information regarding (1) a criminal organization or enterprise, or (2) a terrorist organization, operation, or enterprise. The length of stay for an S nonimmigrant visa is limited to three years, and no extension of stay is permitted, but adjustment to legal permanent residence is possible. The informant's accompanying family members—including spouses, married or unmarried children, and parents—may also receive derivative S nonimmigrant visas.
T Visa for Victims of Trafficking
T visas are available to individuals who are victims of "a severe form of trafficking in persons." Severe forms of trafficking include sex trafficking of persons under 18 years of age, or recruiting or obtaining persons for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion "for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery." Individuals granted T visas may adjust to legal permanent resident status three years after they are granted the T visa. Derivative visas are available to spouses, children, or parents of the principal immigrant.
U Visa for Victims of Crime
U visas are available to individuals who are victims of or who possess information concerning certain types of criminal activity, such as domestic violence, felonious assault, perjury, or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit one of the qualifying offenses. A law enforcement official must certify that an investigation/ prosecution would be harmed without the assistance of the individual or, in the case of a child, the child's parent. Individuals granted U visas may adjust to legal permanent resident status three years after they are granted the U visa. Derivative visas are available to spouses, children, parents, or in some cases, siblings of the principal applicant.
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