International Journalists I-Visa Change – Your Voice Needs to Be Heard!
The proposed change to I-Visa visa rules threatens to transform the status of international journalists and coverage of the US and the UN. The practice of international journalism is at stake along with individual journalists' livelihoods – yet few are reporting on this, let alone submitting comments or protesting to the DHS!
Homeland Security is proposing that press visas be limited to 240 days “renewable.” While thousands of students and others threatened with similar visa restrictions have registered objections, the foreign press has mostly been silent. The FPA is calling attention to this change, but we need media organizations and individual correspondents to make their voices heard. We only have two weeks to do it! This proposed rule change is open for comment through October 26.
Many of you are on such visas or originally entered on them so you will know that currently visa holders are admitted to the United States for the "duration of status," which does not define the period that representatives stay in the U.S.
This offers the flexibility needed for a quick working visit, regular re-entry or long term residence as in a bureau. Good luck getting an apartment or office lease for 240 days! In the current political climate, there is no reason to believe that renewal of journalists' status will be seamless or free from political interference.
We anticipate that other countries may well use the excuse of this rule change to tighten their visa rules, impacting journalists around the world. This rule may well lead to overt or covert intimidation of the foreign press, quite apart from the bureaucratic hassle of confronting the DHS at regular intervals.
Read the full DHS Public Announcementhereand the full Federal Register proposal for public reviewhere.
Please share with me comment letters by October 24 for us to include in an FPA submission to the DHS to protest these changes.
We also encourage you to submit comments directly on the Federal Register page, as well as reach out to both the DHS and legislators. Please also contact your home country press officers and ask them to intervene.