Business/Tourist Visa

Overview

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The B-1/B-2 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Generally, the B-1 visa is for travelers consulting with business associates, attending scientific, educational, professional or business conventions/conferences, settling an estate or negotiating contracts. The B-2 visa is for travel that is recreational in nature, including tourism, visits with friends or relatives, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or service nature. Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2.

Qualifications

If you apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) of the INA presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant. You must overcome this legal presumption by showing:

  • That the purpose of your trip to the U .S. is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment
  • That you plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time
  • Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States
  • That you have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit

Personal or domestic employees and crew members working aboard vessels within the Outer Continental Shelf may qualify for B-1 visas under certain circumstances.

Some foreign nationals may be ineligible for visas according to The Immigration and Nationality Act. You can read more about The Immigration and Nationality Act and visa ineligibility here.

Application Items

If you apply for a business/tourist visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • If you are an L-1 applicant on a blanket petition, you must pay a fraud prevention and detection fee (more information about this fee is here).
  • The receipt number printed on your approved I-129 petition. Please note that Form I-797 is no longer required for the interview.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution:Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is of concern, the applicant should bring the documents to the Embassy in a sealed envelope. The Embassy will not make this information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of the information.

You may consider bringing the following documents to your interview, but they are not required and in most cases not viewed. Original documents are always preferred over photocopies. Do not fax, email or mail any supporting documents to the Embassy/Consulate General unless specifically requested by a consular officer to do so.

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.

  Additionally, based on your purpose of travel, you should consider bringing the following:

Students

Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.

Working adults

An employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.

Businessmen and company directors

Evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.

 Visiting a relative

Photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).

 Previous visitors to the U.S.

If you were previously in the United States, any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status.

Supporting Documents for Applicants Seeking Medical Care

If you wish to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, then you should be prepared to present the following documentation in addition to the documents listed above and those the consular officer may require:

  • A medical diagnosis from a local physician explaining the nature of your ailment and the reason you require treatment in the United States.
  • A letter from a physician or medical facility in the United States expressing a willingness to treat this specific ailment and detailing the projected length and cost of treatment (including doctors’ fees, hospitalization fees, and all medical-related expenses).
  • If someone other than yourself is paying for your medical care in the U.S., a statement of financial responsibility from the individuals or organization paying for your transportation, medical and living expenses. The individuals guaranteeing payment of these expenses must provide proof of their ability to do so, often in the form of bank or other statements of income/savings or certified copies of income tax returns.

For more information about business and tourist visas, visit the Department of State’s website.

Work VisaFAQ

Overview

If you want to work in the U.S. temporarily as a nonimmigrant, under U.S. immigration law, you need a specific visa based on the type of work you will be doing. Most temporary worker categories require that your prospective employer or agent file a petition, which must be approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States before you can apply for a work visa.

All applicants for H, L, O, P, Q, and R visas must have a petition approved on their behalf by USCIS. The petition, Form I-129, must be approved before you can apply for a work visa at the Embassy in Abuja or the Consulate in Lagos. When your petition is approved, your employer or agent will receive a Notice of Action, Form I-797, which serves as your petition’s approval notification. The consular officer will verify your petition approval through the Department of State’s Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) during your interview.

You must bring your I-129 petition receipt number to your interview at the Embassy or Consulate in order to verify your petition’s approval. Please note that approval of a petition does not guarantee issuance of a visa if you are found to be ineligible for a visa under U.S. immigration law.

Work Visa Descriptions and Qualifications

H-1B (specialty occupation)
An H-1B visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform services in a pre-arranged professional job. To qualify, you must hold a bachelor’s or higher degree (or an equivalent degree) in the specific specialty for which you seek employment. USCIS will determine whether your employment constitutes a specialty occupation and whether you are qualified to perform the services. Your employer is required file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor concerning the terms and conditions of its contract of employment with you.

H-1B1 Treaty-based Temporary Work Visas

Free trade agreements signed with Chile and Singapore permit qualified Chilean and Singaporean citizens to temporarily work in the United States in certain circumstances. Only Chilean and Singaporean citizens are eligible as principal applicants, although their spouses and children may be nationals of other countries.

Applicants for H-1B1 visas should already have a job offer from an employer in their chosen work area in the United States, but the employer does not have to file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and the applicant does not need to obtain a Notice of Approval, Form I-797 form before submitting the visa application. However, the petitioner does need to file an Application for Foreign Labor Certification with the Department of Labor prior to applying for the visa.  For more information on the H-1B1 visa, please visit https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/employment/temporary.html

H-2A (seasonal agricultural workers)
An H-2A visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs for which U.S. workers are not available. An H-2A nonimmigrant classification applies to you if you seek to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature in the United States on a temporary basis. A U.S. employer (or an association of U.S. agricultural producers named as a joint employer) must file a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on your behalf.

H-2B visa (skilled and unskilled workers)
This visa is required if you are coming to the United States to perform a job which is temporary or seasonal in nature and for which there is a shortage of U.S. workers. Your employer is required to obtain a Department of Labor certification confirming that there are no qualified U.S. workers eligible for the type of employment on which your petition is based.

H-3 (trainee)
An H-3 visa is required if you are coming to the United States to receive training from an employer in any field of endeavor, other than graduate education or training, for a period of up to two years. You can be paid for your training and “hands-on” work is authorized. Training cannot be used to provide productive employment and cannot be available in your home country.

H-4 (dependents)
If you are the principal holder of a valid H visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may receive an H-4 visa to accompany you to the United States. However, your spouse/children are not permitted to work while in the United States.

L-1 (intra-company transferees)
An L-1 visa is required if you are the employee of an international company which is temporarily transferring you to a parent branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the same company in the United States. The international company may be either a U.S. or foreign organization. To qualify for an L-1 visa, you must be at the managerial or executive level, or have specialized knowledge and be destined to a position within the U.S. company at either of these levels, although not necessarily in the same position as held previously. In addition, you must have been employed outside the United States with the international company continuously for one year within the three years preceding your application for admission into the United States. You may only apply for an L-1 visa after your U.S. company or affiliate has received an approved petition from USCIS, either on a “blanket” or individual basis.

L-2 (dependents)
If you are the principal holder of a valid L visa, your spouse or unmarried children (under age 21) may receive this derivative visa. Due to a recent change in the law, your spouse may seek employment authorization. Your spouse must enter the United States on his/her own L-2 visa and then submit a completed Form I-765 (obtainable from USCIS), along with an application fee. Your children are not authorized to work in the United States.

O (foreign nationals with extraordinary ability)
Type O visas are issued to people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics, or extraordinary achievement in motion picture and television production, and their essential support personnel.

P (artists, entertainers)
Type P visas are issued to certain athletes, entertainers, artists and essential support personnel who are coming to perform in the United States.

Q (international cultural exchange participant)
A Q visa is required if you are traveling to the United States to participate in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of your home country. You must have a petition filed on your behalf by the program sponsor and the petition must be approved by USCIS. Please note that when you fill out your DS-160, the system will ask you to provide a SEVIS number. You should enter zeros into that field, as you do are not required to have a SEVIS registration.

R (religious worker)
The R visa is for individuals seeking to enter the United States to work in a religious capacity on a temporary basis with the support of a petition. Religious workers include persons authorized by a recognized entity to conduct religious worship and undertake other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that religion, and workers engaging in a religious vocation or occupation. For more information about petition-based R visas for religious workers, please click here.

Other Information

When to Apply: The Embassy or Consulate may process your H, L, O, P, Q, or R visa application up to 90 days prior to the beginning of employment status as noted on your I-797. However, when making your travel plans, please note that due to Federal regulations, you can only use the visa to apply for entry to the United States starting ten days prior to the beginning of the approved status period noted on your I-797.

Application Items

If you apply for an H, L, O, P, Q, or R visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$190 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • If you are an L-1 applicant on a blanket petition, you must pay a fraud prevention and detection fee (more information about this fee is here).
  • The receipt number printed on your approved I-129 petition. Paper copies of the I-797 are not required at the interview.

Supporting Documents

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

If you are a first time visa applicant, you may save time by bringing the following documents to your interview:

  • Evidence that establishes your job qualifications, including any university diplomas.
  • Original letters from current and previous employers detailing your position and projects you worked on and how long you worked with your employers.
  • If you are currently working and holding an H-1B visa, please submit your pay slips for the current calendar year and your Federal tax returns (IRS Form 1040 and W-2) for all the years in which you have been employed in the United States. You should bring:
    • pay slips from your current or most recent place of employment
    • the names and current phone numbers of the personnel managers at your present and previous places of employment
    • your resume or CV

Dependents

Your dependents should bring all required documents for any nonimmigrant visa, plus:

  • an original marriage (for your spouse) and/or birth certificate (for unmarried children under 21), as applicable
  • a letter from your spouse’s employer confirming his/her continued employment
  • if your spouse is currently working in the United States on an H1-B visa, his/her pay slips for the current calendar year and federal tax returns (IRS Form 1040 and W-2s) for all the years in which he/she has been employed in the United States on the H-1B visa.

For more information about H, L, O, P and Q visas, visit the Department of State’s Temporary Workers webpage. For more information about R visas, visit the Department of State’s Religious Worker webpage.

Student Visa

FAQ

Overview

The United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to study. Before applying for a visa, all student visa applicants are required to be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a student visa.

Visa Descriptions and Qualifications

F-1 Visa
This is the most common type of student visa. If you wish wish to engage in academic studies in the United States at an approved school, such as an accredited U.S. college or university, private secondary school, or approved English language program then you will need an F-1 visa. You will also need an F-1 visa if your course of study is more than 18 hours a week.

M-1 Visa
If you plan engage in non-academic or vocational study or training at a U.S. institution then you will need an M-1 visa.

More information about each of these visas and opportunities for studying in the United States can be found at the Education USA website.

Other Information

U.S. Public School
U.S. law does not permit foreign students to attend public elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade) or a publicly funded adult education program.  Hence, F-1 visas cannot be issued for study at such schools.

An F-1 visa can be issued for attendance at a public secondary school (grades 9 to 12), but the student is limited to a maximum of 12 months at the school. The school must also indicate on the I-20 that the student has paid the unsubsidized cost of the education and the amount submitted by the student for that purpose.

For more information about F-1 legal requirements, visit the Department of State website.

Note: Holders of A, E, F-2, G, H-4, J-2, L-2, M-2 or other derivative nonimmigrant visas may enroll in public elementary and secondary schools.

Student Assistance, Finding a U.S. School
Students who hope to enroll in an American educational institution are encouraged to contact and visit one of our EducationUSA Advising Centers at either the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos. For additional details including services available and hours of operation, please visit the EAC website at http://nigeria.usembassy.gov/educational_advising.html

Dependents

Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative F or M visas. There is no derivative visa for the parents of F or M holders.

Family members who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but wish to visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

Spouses and dependents may not work in the United States on a derivative F or M visa. If your spuse/child seeks employment, the spouse must obtain the appropriate work visa.

Application Items

To apply for an F or M visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • An approved Form I-20 from your U.S. school or program.
  • A Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating you paid the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more details.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Documents demonstrating strong financial, social, and family ties to your home country that will compel you to return to your country after your program of study in the U.S. ends.
  • Financial and any other documents you believe will support your application and which give credible evidence that you have enough readily-available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study and that you have access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while you remain in the United States. M-1 applicants must demonstrate the ability to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of their intended stay.
  • Only original copies of bank statements, scholarship award letters, etc.will be accepted.
  • If you are financially sponsored by another person, bring proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor’s most recent original tax forms and the sponsor’s original bank statements and/or fixed deposit certificates.
  • Documents that show scholastic preparation. Useful documents include school transcripts (original copies are preferable) with grades, public examination certificates (WAEC scores, NECO scores, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

Supporting Documents for Dependents

Applicants with dependents must also provide:

  • Proof of the student’s relationship to his/her spouse and/or child (e.g., marriage and birth certificates)
  • It is preferred that families apply for their visas at the same time, but if the spouse and/or child must apply separately at a later time, they should bring a copy of the student visa holder’s passport and visa, along with all other required documents.

Additional Information

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
F-1 visa holders may be eligible for up to 12 months of optional practical training following completion of all course requirements for graduation (not including thesis or equivalent), or after completion of all requirements. OPT is separate from a student’s academic work, and time for OPT will not normally be reflected during the student’s academic program or in the completed study date. Students applying for a F visa to do OPT may present an I-20 with an original end of study date that may have passed. However, these I-20s must be annotated by the designated school official to reflect approval of an OPT program that extends beyond the end of the regular period of study. In addition, the student must have proof that USCIS has approved their practical training program or that an application is pending, either in the form of an approved Employment Authorization Card or a Form I-797 indicating that s/he has a pending application for an OPT program.

Validity of Student Visas After a Break in Studies

Students who are away from classes for more than five months can expect to apply for and receive a new F-1 or M-1 student visa to return to school following travel abroad, as explained below.

Students within the U.S.

A student (F-1 or M-1) may lose that status if they do not resume studies within five months of the date of transferring schools or programs, under immigration law. If a student loses status, unless USCIS reinstates the student’s status, the student’s F or M visa would also be invalid for future travel returning to the U.S. For more information see the USCIS website, and instructions for Application for Extend/Change of Nonimmigrant Status Form I-539 to request reinstatement of status.

Students – Returning to the U.S. from Travel Abroad

Students who leave the U.S. for a break in studies of five months or more may lose their F-1 or M-1 status unless their activities overseas are related to their course of study. In advance of travel, students may want to check with their designated school official, if there is a question about whether their activity is related to their course of study.

When the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration inspector at port of entry is presented a previously used, unexpired F-1 or M-1 visa by a returning student who has been outside the U.S. and out of student status for more than five months, a CBP immigration inspector may find the student inadmissible for not possessing a valid nonimmigrant visa. CBP may also cancel the visa after granting the student permission to withdraw the application for admission. Therefore, it is prudent for students to apply for new visas at an embassy or consulate abroad prior to traveling to the U.S. to return to their studies, after an absence of more than five months that is not related to their course of study.

Exchange Visitor Visa

FAQ

OverviewThe United States welcomes foreign citizens who come to the U.S. to participate in exchange programs. Before applying for a visa, all exchange visitor applicants are required to be accepted and approved by an authorized program sponsor.  When accepted, the applicant will receive from the educational institution or program sponsors the necessary approval documentation to be submitted when applying for a visa.

The exchange visitor program’s J visa is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs.

Dependents Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder of a J-1 visa to the United States for the duration of his/her stay must have J-2 visas. Spouses or children who do not intend to reside in the United States with the principal visa holder, but who will visit for vacations only, may be eligible to apply for visitor (B-2) visas.

The spouse and/or child of an exchange visitor in the U.S. may not work while holding a J-2 visa unless they have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must have reviewed the Form I-765 and given permission to the J-2 holder to work. The USCIS website has a PDF document titled “How Do I Get a Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document)?” that has more details.

Application Items To apply for a J visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a “G”), you must present a receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • An approved DS-2019 from your U.S. program.
  • Unless your J program is sponsored by the United States Government (with a program code beginning with a “G”), you must present your Form I-901 SEVIS fee receipt indicating you paid the SEVIS fee. The SEVIS website has more details.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting DocumentsSupporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Documents demonstrating strong financial, social, and family ties to your home country that will compel you to return to your country after your program of study in the U.S. ends.
  • Financial and any other documents you believe will support your application and which give credible evidence that you have enough readily-available funds to meet all expenses for the first year of study and that you have access to funds sufficient to cover all expenses while you remain in the United States.
  • Only original copies of bank statements, scholarship award letters, etc.will be accepted.
  • If you are financially sponsored by another person, bring proof of your relationship to the sponsor (such as your birth certificate), the sponsor’s most recent original tax forms and the sponsor’s bankbooks and/or fixed deposit certificates.
  • If you are being sponsored by an organization (U.S., Nigerian or other), please provide a certified letter on the organization’s official stationery explaining the amount of the financial support and the terms under which it is offered.
  • Academic documents that show scholastic preparation. Useful documents include school transcripts (original copies are preferred) with grades, public examination certificates (A-levels, etc.), standardized test scores (SAT, TOEFL, etc.), and diplomas.

Supporting Documents for DependentsIf you have dependents, you must also provide:

  • Proof of the your relationship to your spouse and/or child (e.g., marriage and birth certificates.)
  • Each spouse or child must have their own Form DS-2019. This form is used to obtain the visa required for the spouse/child to enter the U.S. with you as the principal holder of an exchange visitor visa, or to join you in the U.S. at a later date.

For more information about visas for exchange visitors, visit the Department of State’s website.

Transit/Ship Crew Visas

FAQ

Overview
Transit (C visa)

A citizen of a foreign country traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States enroute to a foreign destination requires a valid transit visa. Exceptions to this requirement include those travelers eligible to transit the U.S. without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program or travelers who are nationals of a country which has an agreement with the U.S. allowing their citizens to travel to the U.S. without visas.

If the traveler seeks layover privileges for purposes other than for transit through the U.S., such as to visit friends or for sightseeing, the applicant will have to qualify for and obtain the type of visa required for that purpose, such as a B-2 visa.

Crew (D visa)

A crew member serving onboard a sea vessel or aircraft in the United States needs a crew visa. Crew members of an aircraft or ship that will be transiting through the United States or its waters generally use a combination transit/crew visa (C-1/D). However, in some cases, individuals may only require the D visa.

Crew members who work aboard vessels within the Outer Continental Shelf, may qualify for a modified B-1 visa in lieu of a crew visa.

Crew members who will be entering the United States during time-off between flights or cruises should also obtain a B-1/B-2 visa to use during these personal/vacation days. Applicants applying simultaneusly for both a C-1/D and a B-1/B-2 visa pay only one visa application fee.

Qualifications

To apply for a transit visa, you must show:

  • Intent to pass in immediate and continuous transit through the United States.
  • A common carrier ticket or other evidence of transportation arrangements to your destination.
  • Sufficient funds to carry out the purpose of your transit journey.
  • Permission to enter another country upon departure from the United States.

To apply for other C, D or C-1/D visas, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that:

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States solely for transit or crew purposes.
  • You do not intend to be paid by a U.S. source while in the United States, unless you have been granted proper approval for a temporary work visa.
  • You plan to stay for a specific, limited period of time.
  • You have evidence of funds to cover all expenses while in the United States.

Applicants whose crewing agents are members of the Crew Visa Program (CVP) should follow the instructions provided to them by their agent. More information on the CVP, including the Crew Visa process in Lagos, can be found here.

Application Items

To apply for a transit or crew member visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • If applicable, a seaman’s book valid beyond the expiration date of your employment contract and all prior seamen’s books. Crew members must submit an official report of loss if they are unable to submit the book.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Although supporting documents may assist you in your interview, consular officers rely primarily on the interview to determine your eligibility for a visa. In other words, supporting documents are voluntary and of secondary importance.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Where appropriate, an itinerary and/or other information about your planned trip. (This can be tentative.)
  • Bank statements or other evidence of liquid assets that indicate the balance in your accounts and account activity.
  • For crew: a letter from your company’s headquarters and/or your seamen’s book.

Domestic Employee Visa

Overview

Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following an employer to the United States may be eligible for B-1 visas. This category of domestic employees includes, but is not limited to, cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, valets, footmen, nannies, au pairs, mothers’ helpers, gardeners, and paid companions.

Those accompanying or following to join an employer who is a foreign diplomat or government official may be eligible for an A-3 or G-5 visa, depending upon their employer’s visa status.

Qualifications

If you are a domestic employee and wish to apply for a B-1 visa, you must demonstrate that:

  • The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for work as a domestic employee
  • You plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time
  • Your employer meets certain qualifications
  • You have evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad
  • You have a residence outside the United States as well as other binding ties that will ensure you return abroad at the end of your contract.

Accompanying a Nonimmigrant Visa Holder

If you are a domestic employee and wish to accompany or join an employer who is not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and who seeks admission to, or who is already in, the United States under a B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q, or R nonimmigrant visa then you may be eligible for a B-1 visa classification, provided:

  • You have at least one year’s experience as a personal or domestic employee as attested to by statements from previous employers
    • You have been employed outside the United States by your employer for at least one year prior to the date of your employer’s admission to the United States, or
    • Your employer-employee relationship existed immediately prior to the time of your employer’s application, and your employer can demonstrate that he/she regularly employed (either year-round or seasonally) domestic help over a period of years preceding the time their application
  • You will have no other work, and will receive free room and board and round trip airfare from your employer as indicated under the terms of the employment contract

Accompanying an American Citizen

a.  Personal or domestic employees who are accompanying or following to join U.S. citizen employers temporarily assigned to the United States may be eligible for a B-1 visa classification provided that:

 (1)     The employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intention of abandoning;

(2)     The alien has been employed abroad by the employer as a personal or domestic servant for at least six months prior to the date of the employer’s admission to the United States OR the employer can show that while abroad the employer has regularly employed a domestic servant in the same capacity as that intended for the applicant;

(3)     The employee can demonstrate at least one year experience as a personal or domestic servant by producing statements from previous employers attesting to such experience; and

(4)     The employee is in possession of an original contract or a copy of the contract, to be presented at the port of entry, which contains the original signatures of both the employer and the employee.

b. The U.S. citizen employer is subject to frequent international transfers lasting two years or more as a condition of the job as confirmed by the employer’s personnel office and is returning to the United States for a stay of no more than six years.  The employer will be the only provider of employment to the domestic employee, and will provide the employee free room and board and a round trip airfare as indicated under the terms of the employment contract; and

c. The required employment contract has been signed and dated by the employer and employee and contains a guarantee from the employer that, in addition to the provisions listed in item (b) above, the employee will receive the minimum or prevailing wages whichever is greater for an eight hour work-day.  The employment contract must also reflect any other benefits normally required for U.S. domestic workers in the area of employment.  The employer will give at least two weeks’ notice of his or her intent to terminate the employment, and the employee need not give more than two weeks’ notice of intent to leave the employment.

Note: You cannot qualify for a B-1 visa if the United States citizen will reside permanently in the United States, even if you have previously been employed by the United States citizen abroad.

Accompanying a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident

U.S. Legal Permanent Residents (Green card holders) are not permitted to bring their domestic workers to the United States on a B-1 visa under any circumstances.

Contract Requirements for B-1 Visa Holders

As a domestic employee applying for a B-1 visa, you must present an employment contract, signed by both you and your employer, which includes:

  • A description of your duties in the U.S.
  • The number of hours you will work each week
  • The number of authorized holidays, vacation and sick days per year
  • The regular day(s) off each week
  • The rate of pay, which must be at least the prevailing or minimum wage per hour under Federal law (whichever is greater) where you will be employed for all hours of duty. Current minimum wages throughout the U.S. are found here and currently prevailing wages can be found here.
  • A certification that you will receive free room and board
  • A certification that your employer will ensure that you do not become a public charge while working for your employer
  • A certification that you will not accept any other employment while working for your employer
  • A certification that your employer will not withhold your passport
  • A certification that both parties understand that you cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation
  • A certification that your employer will pay your initial travel expenses to the U.S. and subsequently to your employer’s onward assignment, or to your country of normal residence at termination.

Accompanying an A-1, A-2, or G-1 – G-4 Visa Holder (A-3 or G-5 Visas)

If you are the attendant, servant, or personal employee of someone classified A-1 or A-2 or G-1 through G-4 then you are entitled to the appropriate A-3 or G-5 classification. You must demonstrate entitlement to an A-3 or G-5 classification (e.g., letter of reference from a former employer, evidence of previous employment in that sector, etc.). Consular officers must establish the official status of the employer and the intent of both parties to enter into (or remain in) an employer-employee relationship. In addition, domestic helpers of diplomats (A3) and international organization employees (G5), must first be registered with the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Mission Management Information System (TOMIS) before applying for a visa. For details of TOMIS registration please contact the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions.

A-3 and G-5 visa applicants must be interviewed by a consular officer. They must follow the normal application procedures for the general public, including scheduling an interview.

The consular officer must be satisfied that the wage to be received by the A-3 or G-5 applicant is a fair wage comparable to that offered in the area of employment and sufficient to overcome public charge concerns. Applications for such visas must include an employment contract signed by the employer and the employee.

Contract Requirements for A-3/G-5 Visa Holders

As a domestic employee applying for an A-3 or G-5 visa, you must present an employment contract, signed by both you and your employer, which includes:

  • A guarantee that you will be compensated at the state or federal minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater. Current minimum wages throughout the U.S. are found here and currently prevailing wages can be found here.
  • A statement that after the first 90 days of employment, all wage payments must be made by check or by electronic transfer to your bank account. Neither the employer nor their family members should have access to your bank accounts.
  • When the employer is a foreign diplomat, live-in domestic helpers, under prevailing practice, receive free room and board in addition to their salary
  • A promise by you not to accept any other employment while working for your employer
  • A promise by your employer to not withhold your passport and a statement indicating that both parties understand that you cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation
  • The contract is essential to the process in that it provides you with a framework within which you may personally seek certain employment or human rights protections. Your employer must pay your initial travel expenses to the United States and subsequently to your employer’s onward assignment, or to your country of normal residence at the termination of the assignment.

Application Items

To apply for a B-1, A-3 or G-5 visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • For B-1 applicants only: A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
    • A-3 and G-5 applicants are not required to pay application fees.
  • A copy of your employer’s visa or other method they will use to enter the United States (their Visa Waiver country passport or U.S. passport)
  • An employment contract, signed by both you and your employer, which meets all requirements listed above
  • For A-3 and G-5 applicants only: A Note Verbale confirming the employment status of the principal, the date of departure, the purpose of the trip and the length of stay in the United States. The Note Verbale should list the name of the employee and give the employer’s title or official status. It should also specify the date of departure, and the purpose of the trip and length of stay in the United States.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Proof of your employer’s ability to pay the promised wage. Note: If you are applying for an A-3 or G-5 visa, this only applies if the employer holds a diplomatic rank of counselor or below.
  • Evidence establishing that your stay in the United States will be temporary.

Journalist and Media Visas

Overview

The media (I) visa is a nonimmigrant visa for representatives of the foreign media temporarily traveling to the United States to engage in their profession while having their home office in a foreign country. Some procedures and fees under immigration law relate to policies of the traveler’s home country and, in turn, the U.S. follows a similar practice, which we call “reciprocity.” Procedures for providing media visas to foreign media representatives of a particular country consider whether the visa applicant’s own government grants similar privileges, or is reciprocal, to media/press representatives from the United States.

Qualifications

There are very specific requirements, dictated by U.S. immigration law, which must be met by applicants in order to qualify for the media visa. To qualify for the media (I) visa applicants must demonstrate that they are properly qualified to be issued a media visa.

Media visas are for “representatives of the foreign media,” including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, under U.S. immigration laws, traveling to the U.S. to engage in their profession. The applicant must be engaging in qualifying activities for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country. The activity must be essentially informational, and generally associated with the news gathering process, reporting on actual current events, to be eligible for the media visa. The consular officer will determine whether or not an activity qualifies for the media visa. Reporting on sports events are usually appropriate for the media visa. Other examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities:

  • Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
  • Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film will only qualify for a media visa if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Additionally, the primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the U.S.
  • Journalists working under contract. Persons holding a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working under contract on a product to be used abroad by an information or cultural medium to disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising. Please note that a valid employment contract is required.
  • Employees of independent production companies when those employees hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.
  • Foreign journalists working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media outlet if the journalist is going to the U.S. to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
  • Accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who are not entitled to A-2 visa classification.
  • Technical industrial information. Employees in the U.S. offices of organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.

Freelance journalists will only be considered for an I visa if all of the following criteria are met. The journalist must:

  • Hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization
  • Be under contract to a media organization
  • Disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising.

Still photographers are permitted to enter the United States with B-1 visas for the purpose of taking photographs, provided that they receive no income from a U.S. source.

Restrictions

Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who want to enter the United States temporarily as representatives of the foreign media while engaging in their profession as media or journalists, must first obtain a media visa to come to the U.S. They cannot travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program, nor can they travel on a visitor (type B) visa. Attempting to do so may result in a denial of admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. The list below describes situations when a visitor visa or the Visa Waiver Program can be used.

Traveling with a Visitor Visa

A visitor visa may be used if your purpose of travel is for the following activities:

Attending a conference or meeting
Media representatives traveling to the U.S. to attend conferences or meetings as a participant and who will not report about the meeting, either while in the U .S. or upon their return, can travel on a visitor visa. The distinction in immigration law is whether they will be “engaging in their vocation.”

Guest speaking, lecturing or engaging in academic activity
Media representatives must hold a visitor visa when traveling to the U.S. for the purposes of guest speaking, lecturing, or engaging in other usual academic activity at a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, a nonprofit research organization, a governmental research organization, or at an institution of higher education from which the applicant will receive an honorarium. However, the speaking activity must last no longer than nine days at a single institution and the speaker cannot have received payment from more than five institutions or organizations for such activities in the last six months.

Purchasing media equipment
A visitor visa can be used by employees of foreign media outlets to purchase U.S. media equipment or broadcast rights or to take orders for foreign media equipment or broadcast rights, since these activites fall within the scope of those executed by ordinary business visitors.

Vacation
A foreign media journalist can take vacation to the U .S. using a visitor visa and does not need a media visa, as long a he/she will not be reporting on newsworthy events.

Traveling with a Temporary Work Visa

While certain activities clearly qualify for the media visa because they are informational and news gathering in content, many do not. Each application is considered within the full context of its particular case. The consular officer focuses on whether the purpose of travel is essentially informational, and whether it is generally associated with the news gathering process, in order to determine if an applicant qualifies for a media visa. The list below describes situations when a temporary worker visa, such as types H, O, or P, are required instead of a type I journalist/media visa.

A temporary work visa may be used if your purpose of travel is for the following activities:

Filming material for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes
A media visa cannot be used by applicants whose purpose of travel to the U.S. is to film, or work on a film, intended primarily for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes. A temporary worker visa is required.

Production support roels such as proofreaders, librarians and set designers
People involved in associated activities such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers, etc., are not eligible for media visas and may qualify under another classification, such as H, O, or P visas.

Stories that are staged events, television and quiz shows 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 media visa. Television, radio, and film production companies may wish to seek expert counsel from an immigration attorney who specializes in media work for specific advice tailored to the current project.

Producing artistic media content
Media representatives who will travel to the U.S. in order to participate in the production of artistic media content (in which actors are used) will not qualify for a media visa. Television, radio, and film production companies may wish to seek expert counsel from an immigration attorney who specializes in media work for specific advice tailored to the current project.

Dependents

Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative I visas. Spouses and/or 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 (B-2) visas.

Spouses and dependents may not work in the United States on a derivative I visa. If the spouse or dependent seeks employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.

Application Items

To apply for an I visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • Proof of employment:
    • Staff Journalist: A letter from your employer that gives your name, your position held within the company, and the purpose and length of your stay in the U.S.
    • Freelance Journalist under contract to a media organization: A copy of the contract with the media organization showing your name, your position held within the company, the duration of contract, and the purpose and length of your stay in the U.S.
    • Media Film Crew: A letter from your employer showing your name, your position held within company, the title and a brief description of the program being filmed, and the purpose and length of your stay in the U.S.
    • Independent Production Company under contract to media organization: A letter from the organization commissioning the work showing your name, the title and a brief description of the program being filmed, the duration of the contract, and the period of time required for filming in the U.S.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Press card/credentials
  • A letter from your employer indicating the purpose of your trip, the intended length of your stay, the number of years you have been with your employer and the number of years of journalism experience you have.
  • Proof of publication including samples of previous articles, if applicable.

Supporting Documents for Dependents

If your spouse and/or child applies for a visa at a later date, a copy of your media visa must be presented with the application.

Journalist and Media Visas

Overview

The media (I) visa is a nonimmigrant visa for representatives of the foreign media temporarily traveling to the United States to engage in their profession while having their home office in a foreign country. Some procedures and fees under immigration law relate to policies of the traveler’s home country and, in turn, the U.S. follows a similar practice, which we call “reciprocity.” Procedures for providing media visas to foreign media representatives of a particular country consider whether the visa applicant’s own government grants similar privileges, or is reciprocal, to media/press representatives from the United States.

Qualifications

There are very specific requirements, dictated by U.S. immigration law, which must be met by applicants in order to qualify for the media visa. To qualify for the media (I) visa applicants must demonstrate that they are properly qualified to be issued a media visa.

Media visas are for “representatives of the foreign media,” including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, under U.S. immigration laws, traveling to the U.S. to engage in their profession. The applicant must be engaging in qualifying activities for a media organization having its home office in a foreign country. The activity must be essentially informational, and generally associated with the news gathering process, reporting on actual current events, to be eligible for the media visa. The consular officer will determine whether or not an activity qualifies for the media visa. Reporting on sports events are usually appropriate for the media visa. Other examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities:

  • Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
  • Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film will only qualify for a media visa if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Additionally, the primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the U.S.
  • Journalists working under contract. Persons holding a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working under contract on a product to be used abroad by an information or cultural medium to disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising. Please note that a valid employment contract is required.
  • Employees of independent production companies when those employees hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.
  • Foreign journalists working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media outlet if the journalist is going to the U.S. to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
  • Accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who are not entitled to A-2 visa classification.
  • Technical industrial information. Employees in the U.S. offices of organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.

Freelance journalists will only be considered for an I visa if all of the following criteria are met. The journalist must:

  • Hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization
  • Be under contract to a media organization
  • Disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising.

Still photographers are permitted to enter the United States with B-1 visas for the purpose of taking photographs, provided that they receive no income from a U.S. source.

Restrictions

Citizens from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), who want to enter the United States temporarily as representatives of the foreign media while engaging in their profession as media or journalists, must first obtain a media visa to come to the U.S. They cannot travel without a visa on the Visa Waiver Program, nor can they travel on a visitor (type B) visa. Attempting to do so may result in a denial of admission to the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. The list below describes situations when a visitor visa or the Visa Waiver Program can be used.

Traveling with a Visitor Visa

A visitor visa may be used if your purpose of travel is for the following activities:

Attending a conference or meeting
Media representatives traveling to the U.S. to attend conferences or meetings as a participant and who will not report about the meeting, either while in the U .S. or upon their return, can travel on a visitor visa. The distinction in immigration law is whether they will be “engaging in their vocation.”

Guest speaking, lecturing or engaging in academic activity
Media representatives must hold a visitor visa when traveling to the U.S. for the purposes of guest speaking, lecturing, or engaging in other usual academic activity at a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, a nonprofit research organization, a governmental research organization, or at an institution of higher education from which the applicant will receive an honorarium. However, the speaking activity must last no longer than nine days at a single institution and the speaker cannot have received payment from more than five institutions or organizations for such activities in the last six months.

Purchasing media equipment
A visitor visa can be used by employees of foreign media outlets to purchase U.S. media equipment or broadcast rights or to take orders for foreign media equipment or broadcast rights, since these activites fall within the scope of those executed by ordinary business visitors.

Vacation
A foreign media journalist can take vacation to the U .S. using a visitor visa and does not need a media visa, as long a he/she will not be reporting on newsworthy events.

Traveling with a Temporary Work Visa

While certain activities clearly qualify for the media visa because they are informational and news gathering in content, many do not. Each application is considered within the full context of its particular case. The consular officer focuses on whether the purpose of travel is essentially informational, and whether it is generally associated with the news gathering process, in order to determine if an applicant qualifies for a media visa. The list below describes situations when a temporary worker visa, such as types H, O, or P, are required instead of a type I journalist/media visa.

A temporary work visa may be used if your purpose of travel is for the following activities:

Filming material for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes
A media visa cannot be used by applicants whose purpose of travel to the U.S. is to film, or work on a film, intended primarily for commercial entertainment or advertising purposes. A temporary worker visa is required.

Production support roels such as proofreaders, librarians and set designers
People involved in associated activities such as proofreaders, librarians, set designers, etc., are not eligible for media visas and may qualify under another classification, such as H, O, or P visas.

Stories that are staged events, television and quiz shows 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 media visa. Television, radio, and film production companies may wish to seek expert counsel from an immigration attorney who specializes in media work for specific advice tailored to the current project.

Producing artistic media content
Media representatives who will travel to the U.S. in order to participate in the production of artistic media content (in which actors are used) will not qualify for a media visa. Television, radio, and film production companies may wish to seek expert counsel from an immigration attorney who specializes in media work for specific advice tailored to the current project.

Dependents

Spouses or unmarried children under the age of 21 who wish to accompany or join the principal visa holder in the United States for the duration of his/her stay require derivative I visas. Spouses and/or 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 (B-2) visas.

Spouses and dependents may not work in the United States on a derivative I visa. If the spouse or dependent seeks employment, the appropriate work visa will be required.

Application Items

To apply for an I visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • Proof of employment:
    • Staff Journalist: A letter from your employer that gives your name, your position held within the company, and the purpose and length of your stay in the U.S.
    • Freelance Journalist under contract to a media organization: A copy of the contract with the media organization showing your name, your position held within the company, the duration of contract, and the purpose and length of your stay in the U.S.
    • Media Film Crew: A letter from your employer showing your name, your position held within company, the title and a brief description of the program being filmed, and the purpose and length of your stay in the U.S.
    • Independent Production Company under contract to media organization: A letter from the organization commissioning the work showing your name, the title and a brief description of the program being filmed, the duration of the contract, and the period of time required for filming in the U.S.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.

You should bring the following documents to your interview:

  • Press card/credentials
  • A letter from your employer indicating the purpose of your trip, the intended length of your stay, the number of years you have been with your employer and the number of years of journalism experience you have.
  • Proof of publication including samples of previous articles, if applicable.

Supporting Documents for Dependents

If your spouse and/or child applies for a visa at a later date, a copy of your media visa must be presented with the application.

A List of NIV Types

Overview

We welcome visitors to the United States with secure borders and open doors. Most Canadian citizens and many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can come to the U.S. without a visa if they meet certain requirements, which you can read about here.

There are various types of nonimmigrant visas for temporary visitors to travel to the U.S., if you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. It’s important to have information about the type of nonimmigrant visa you will need for travel, and the steps required to apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

Review the chart below to determine the type of visa you need. For more detailed information specific to each visa type, including how-to-apply information and more, select a link from the Visa Type column below.

Purpose of Travel to U.S. and Nonimmigrant Visas Visa Type
Athletes, amateur and professional (competing for prize money only) B-1
Athletes, artists, entertainers P
Australian worker – professional specialty E-3
Border Crossing Card: Mexico BCC
Business visitors B-1
Crewmembers (serving aboard a sea vessel or aircraft in the U.S.) D
Diplomats and foreign government officials A
Domestic employees or nannies (must be accompanying a foreign national employer) B-1
Employees of a designated international organization, and NATO G1-G5, NATO
Exchange visitors J
Exchange visitors – au pairs J-1
Exchange visitors – children (under age 21) or spouse of a J-1 holder J-2
Exchange visitors – professors, scholars, teachers J-1
Exchange visitors – international cultural J, Q
Fiancé(e) K-1
Foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S. A-2, NATO1-6
Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics O-1
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) professionals: Chile H-1B1
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) professionals: Singapore H-1B1
Information media representative (media, journalists) I
Intra-company transferees L
Medical treatment, visitors for B-2
NAFTA professional workers: Mexico, Canada TN/TD
Nurses traveling to areas short of health care professionals H-1C
Physicians J-1, H-1B
Religious workers R
Specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge H-1B
Students – academic and language students F-1
Student dependents – dependent of an F-1 holder F-2
Students – vocational M-1
Student dependents – dependent of an M-1 holder M-2
Temporary workers – seasonal agricultural H-2A
Temporary workers – nonagricultural H-2B
Tourism, vacation, pleasure visitors B-2
Training in a program not primarily for employment H-3
Treaty investors E-2
Treaty traders E-1
Transiting the United States C
Victims of human trafficking T-1
Visa renewals in the U.S. – A, G, and NATO A1-2, G1-4, NATO1-6

SOURCE:-http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ng