I Visa

Canadian journalists and other foreign media representatives can apply for an I Visa to enter the United States temporarily for work.

If you are unsure if you will meet the criteria for the I visa, contact our immigration lawyers at Total Law. They will assess your eligibility for it and help you submit your application. If you need assistance with the visa, feel free to call us on +1 844 290 6312, or you can request a call back through our live chat feature.

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    What is the I visa?

    The I Visa, also known as the I Media Visa, or the Visa for Members of the Foreign Media, Press, and Radio, is intended for individuals who represent foreign media, including Canadian media. If you have a successful I Visa application, you will be able to legally work for a foreign media outlet while in the US.

    Anyone who wants to come to the US to engage in professional activities for the organization will need to apply for the I Visa. To qualify for this visa, the activities that you intend to take part in while in the US will have to be of informational nature and associated with reporting on the latest events.

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    What are the I visa requirements for Canadian citizens?

    All Canadian citizens who wish to receive the I Visa will have to meet the following criteria:

    • You must be a representative of a foreign media outlet
    • You must be traveling to the US to work in your profession
    • You must be a representative of a foreign media outlet that has a home office in Canada, or any other country that is not the US.

    Occupations that qualify for the I visa include, but are not limited to, radio broadcasters, journalists, film crew, and editors. If you work as an artist or entertainer, you should apply for the P1 Visa instead. If you are a freelancer, you can apply for the I Visa, provided that you have a contract with a media organization.

     

    How long is the I Visa valid for?

    During your application for the I visa, you will need to provide the details of how long your assignment in the US is going to last. The validity of the I Visa will vary depending on how much time you will need to complete your job in the US. Nevertheless, the I Visa is usually issued for a period of 12 months.

    If your I Visa is about to expire but you require more time to finish your project or assignments, you can apply for an extension. You can do so by filing form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status).

    If your application for an extension is successful, you will be able to continue working in the US for an additional period of up to 12 months. There is no limit on how many extensions an individual can receive, but every time you apply for it, you will have to provide substantial proof that you have not completed your original assignment.

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      How can a Canadian citizen apply for an I visa?

      To apply for an I visa, you will have to file form DS-160 online. Once you have done this, you will need to print and keep the confirmation page, as you will need to bring this along with you to your visa interview.

      You will then have to schedule an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in Canada. Once you have done this you can start preparing your required supporting documents that will include the following:

      • Your passport (must be valid for at least six months past your intended to stay in the US)
      • Proof of employment by a foreign media organization
      • A detailed letter outlining what your job in the US will be
      • Details of the organization that you represent
      • Proof of your credentials within your field of expertise
      • Substantial evidence showing that you intend to return to Canada once your I Visa expires
      • The confirmation page of form DS-160
      • The receipt showing that you have paid the visa fee

      If you fail to include all of these documents within your application, the processing time will take longer than usual, so make sure that you have everything requested when attending your visa interview.

      What can Canadian citizens do on the I Visa?

      If your application for the I Visa is successful, you will be able to arrive in the US and do the following:

      • Film news events or a documentary
      • Film other material of informative or educational nature
      • Work as a journalist representing a Canadian organization for a foreign organization
      • Report on US news for a Canadian or foreign audience

      However, in order to receive the I Visa that engages in these activities once in the US, your primary source of funding needs to be from outside of the US. Moreover, the activities you are engaging in cannot have entertainment value and must be of an informative or educational nature.

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        When to use a B visa instead of an I visa

        Because of these restrictions on the I Visa, you may find that you would be better off by applying for a B2 visitor visa instead. You should consider doing so if you are coming to the US for any of the following reasons:

        • To attend a conference or similar, so long as you do not intend to report on it to a media organization
        • To be a guest speaker at a conference, or to give a lecture at an educational institution, provided that the event is shorter than nine days
        • To come for a holiday, as long as you do not report on US events during this time
        • To undertake independent research, provided that you do not use the findings to create content for a media organization
        • To take photographs, as long as you do not receive payment for them from a US organization

        During your application for the I visa, you will need to provide the details of how long your assignment in the US is going to last. The validity of the I Visa will vary depending on how much time you will need to complete your job in the US. Nevertheless, the I Visa is usually issued for a period of 12 months.

         

        What is the waiting time for the I Visa?

        Most applications for the I Visa process quickly, and you will usually have your response within just 10 days. Nevertheless, the processing time will vary depending on the workload of the US Embassy or Consulate to where you are applying.

        If the evidence proving your eligibility for the I Visa is insufficient, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) might ask you to gather and submit additional documentation. This can significantly delay your application process, resulting in you remaining outside of the US for a longer period of time.

        As with all visas, there is a risk that your I Visa application may be rejected. If this happens, you do have the right to appeal the decision and attempt your application again. Before you do this, however, it is best to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer, as they will make sure that your second attempt at the application has everything that it needs.

         

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If your I Visa is about to expire but you require more time to finish your project or assignments, you can apply for an extension. You can do so by filing form I-539, (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status).

                  If your application for an extension is successful, you will be able to continue working in the US for an additional period of up to 12 months. There is no limit on how many extensions an individual can receive, but every time you apply for it, you will have to provide substantial proof that you have not completed your original assignment.

                  Visa applicants applying for an I visa will need to pay $160 for the processing of Form DS-160.

                  I visa holders may bring their spouse and/or dependent children with them to the United States if they apply and are accepted for a Dependents I visa.