I Visa Frequently Asked Questions

What is the I visa, and who is eligible for it?

The I visa is a non-immigrant visa category for representatives of the foreign media, including journalists, reporters, film crews, editors, and members of the press, who intend to travel to the United States temporarily to engage in their profession. Eligibility is based on representing a foreign information media outlet (press, radio, film, or other foreign information media, coming to the United States to engage solely in this profession, and has a home office in a foreign country.

How does the I visa application process work?

You can apply for an I visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. The Department of State establishes visa application processing and issuance fees.

As a representative of foreign media, you cannot travel to the U.S. and engage in your profession without an I nonimmigrant visa, even if you are a citizen of a country that participates in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you attempt to travel to the U.S. without the appropriate visa, you may be denied admission by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the port of entry (airport, seaport, or land border). There are limited instances under which you, as a foreign media representative, may be eligible to travel with a visitor’s visa.

How long can an I visa holder stay in the U.S.?

At the port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will determine if you can be admitted to the United States. The officer will review and stamp Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, which will contain your authorized period of stay. Admission as an I nonimmigrant is generally authorized for the duration of status (i.e., D/S on Form I-94), and no application for extension of stay is required to be filed as long as the media representative continues working for the same employer in the same information medium. If Form I-94 indicates a specific end date for your authorized period of stay, and you wish to stay beyond that specified end date, you must file a Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, in accordance with the form filing instructions, and submit any required evidence and applicable fees.

If you are an I nonimmigrant in this category wishing to stay in the United States to continue your I activities beyond the date specified on your Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, you must request an extension of stay by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for a period necessary to complete your I activities, not to exceed 90 days. You may submit multiple, sequential, timely-filed extension of stay requests, for extensions of up to 90 days if you can demonstrate activities or assignments consistent with the I classification for the requested period(s). You may remain in the United States while your timely-filed extension of stay application is pending. If you depart the United States while your extension of stay application is pending, USCIS may deny your request.

In terms of employment while your timely-filed extension of stay application is pending, you may continue your I employment with the same employer and in the same medium for 90 days (or the period of time you requested if it is less than 90 days) from the date your Form I-94 expired. As a general guideline, you must stop working if more than 90 days have passed since your Form I-94 has expired and your timely-filed extension of stay application remains pending. You may resume employment if the pending application is approved, but only for the length of time remaining from that application. At any time after the expiration of your Form I-94, the denial of an extension of stay application requires you to cease work activities and depart the United States immediately.

Can I visa holders bring their family members with them to the U.S.?

Any accompanying or following-to-join spouse and children under the age of 21 may be eligible to apply for an I nonimmigrant visa. If your spouse and/or children apply for visas at a later date, they must submit a copy of your I nonimmigrant visa with their application. Your spouse and children are not eligible to work with an I nonimmigrant visa, but can study in the United States without applying for an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa. If your spouse and children only intend to visit for vacation and do not intend to reside with you in the United States, they may travel to the United States with a B-2 nonimmigrant visa, or travel without a nonimmigrant visa if they qualify under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Can I change my status to an I visa or change my employer or information medium?

If you are currently in the United States and wish to request a change of status from another nonimmigrant classification to an I nonimmigrant status, or if you currently hold I status and wish to request a change of employer or information medium, you must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, in accordance with the form filing instructions and with the proper fees. Your application should be accompanied by evidence of your current status and a letter from the employing foreign media organization describing the employment and establishing the fact that you are a representative of that media organization.

Can I visa holders apply for U.S. permanent residency (a green card)?

It’s essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to navigate the green card application process as an I visa holder. The process and requirements can be complex, and individual circumstances vary, so professional guidance is often necessary to determine the most suitable pathway.

Can I visa holders apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization)?

It’s essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to navigate the naturalization application process as an I visa holder. The process and requirements can be complex, and individual circumstances vary, so professional guidance is often necessary to determine the most suitable pathway.
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Dana Davidson - Full Bio

Dana T. Davidson holds degrees from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and State University of New York at Stony Brook and has been practicing immigration law since 2003 in New York and nationwide. She represents corporations, individuals, and families in a broad range of immigration matters. Attorney Davidson has offices in New York City and Glen Cove.


  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • Juris Doctor – 1988
  • Honors: Moot Court Board, Member, Judge
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
  • Bachelor of Arts – 1982
  • Major: Political Science
  • Concentration: Business

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Safe Passage Project, Volunteer Attorney, 2013-Present
  • Educating the Educators, Founder, 2012-Present
  • Momentum Project, Board Member, 1991-1994 Bar Admission
  • New York, Eastern District
  • New York, Southern District
  • Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Berlin, Germany, Speaker on “Public Charge” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa, Speaker: “Practice Management in the New Age” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Madrid, Spain, Speaker: “El Traje de Luces: Self-Sponsored Petitions – EB-1A and NIW”  AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2017, Brussels, Belgium, Speaker: “Continuing Blanket L Challenges”
  • Safe Passage Project, March 2017, Speaker: “Representing Unaccompanied Minors: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2016, Speaker: “It’s Not About Money: I-864”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2016, Vienna, Austria, Speaker: “K-Visa: Differences Between K-1 and I-130 Processing”
  • New York Institute of Technology’s Center for Entrepreneurship, January 2016, Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence
  • AILA Fall Conference 2015, London, UK, Speaker: Impact of joint sponsors on family-based cases
  • Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Program, October 2014, “What is required to grow a business?”
  • Dowling College, May 2013, Keynote Speaker at the first annual Latino Summit at Dowling College
  • International Taxation Conference, 2010