Media (I) visa is a nonimmigrant visa usually given to the alien who is a bona fide representative of the foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media, who seeks to enter the United States solely to engage in such vocation, and the spouse and children of such a representative if accompanying or following to join him. For the alien to travel to the United States on media visa, there must be reciprocity between his or her country of nationality and the United States. Usually the procedures that are considered to provide media visas is whether the visa applicants own government grants, similar privileges or is reciprocal, to representatives of the media or press from the United States.
However, USCIS is very specific in qualifying an alien for media visa. Alien is required to demonstrate that he or she is qualified for media visa. In order to show that he or she must be engaging in qualifying activities for a media having its home office in his or her country of nationality. Usually such qualifying activities are generally associated with the news gathering process, reporting on actual current events, and essentially informational. For example, reporting on sports events, engaging in filming a news event or documentary, engaging in the production or distribution of film to disseminate information or news, etc. Also, media visa is appropriate for the aliens who are controlled, operated or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about the country, and who are not entitled to A-2 classification.
Derivative I visas are given to the spouse and unmarried minor children under the age of 21 who would like to accompany or follow to join the primary media visa applicant. The application procedure is same as for a primary media visa applicant. A copy of the principal visa holder’s media visa must be furnished with the application if his or dependents apply for visas at a later date. They are admitted to the United States till the duration of his or her employment in the United States. Derivatives of media visa holder may not work in the United States, and if they desire employment, they are required to obtain appropriate visa. However, they would be able to study in the United States without being required to apply for F-1 Student visa.
Also, Spouses and children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor visa, and if qualified, travel without a visa under the visa waiver program.