May 13, 2003

Keeping America Safe From T...

Keeping America Safe Frof you didn't have this piece of paper, you had to lie about what you were doing here ("oh, just bringing $10,000 worth of camera equipment to take recreational photographs!"), then you were whisked right through.

The only country I've ever visited that required a journalist visa was Cuba, and even then they didn't send me back at the airport when they discovered I didn't have one yet. The only other country that gave me any similar guff was Serbia -- you had to make up some story about "visiting a friend," then they'd scowl and stamp the passport.

I wonder if this means it's now illegal to conduct journalism on U.S. soil without receiving specific authorization. If so, that's just horrible and stupid.

Posted by at May 13, 2003 03:21 PM
Comments

I hope "horrible and stupid" is just Matt Welch understatement.

Posted by: Atrops at May 13, 2003 07:15 PM

Yes, it is "horrible and stupid".

Seems that just last month . . .

http://travel.state.gov/ireval.html

Posted by: Warren Celli at May 13, 2003 08:12 PM

Shocking that we've sunk so very low.

Posted by: Ashcroft Must Be Stopped at May 14, 2003 06:46 AM

It is true that foreign journalists are required to get journalist visas in order to cover stories in the United States. This is not some attempt to control foreign media access, but a matter of being practical.

By obtaining journalist visas, journalists can stay as long as their media outlets require, without worrying about expiring visas and such.

At the same time, their visas are issued by the state department through their embassies in which the journalist comes from. Going through the state department is much faster, than, say, going through INS, which can takes months, instead of days with the embassy.

People who are making commercial film and such, are required to get temporary work visas to work in the United States. JOurnalists do not.

Posted by: niraj at May 14, 2003 07:50 AM

A matter of being practical? What's practical about barring someone in the country legally on a tourist visa from committing journalism? And what in hell does that have to do with National Security?

Posted by: Matt Welch at May 14, 2003 09:55 AM

What makes you so sure they were on tourist visas? If they were comming from Europe to cover E3, they probably tried to get in under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which "enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa."

It would have worked for most, except those from Belgium that didn't have machine-readable passports (MRP) -- a May 15, 2003 change in the rules.

If there was a screwup in passing that rule change down to LAX, they may have been turning away more Europeans under the VWP than just those from Belgium.

The "tourist" visa is good for both business and pleasure -- and business includes journalists covering E3. Those Europeans that got in probably didn't have to "lie" because they probably had visas or qualified under the VWP rules.

But I can imagine those being turned making a fuss about being "journalists" and getting told "Then get a damn I-visa and you can come and go as you please."

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at May 14, 2003 10:37 AM

Make that "...business should include journalists covering E3."

I wonder if INS and State are having trouble getting their info straight. From the INS Business or Pleasure Visitors page (emphasis added):

The visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose, such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc, must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category. Travelers from certain eligible countries may also be able to visit the U.S. without a visa, through the Visa Waiver Program.

IOW, it looks like some confusion between what constitutes "conducting business" versus being a "temporary worker." Simply comming to the US to cover a single convention should be the former, being on the BBC permanent crew in Washington should be the latter.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at May 14, 2003 11:27 AM

Here are the specific code sections.

Sec. 214.2(i) Representatives of information media --

The admission of an alien of the class defined in section 101(a)(15)(I) of the Act constitutes an agreement by the alien not to change the information medium or his or her employer until he or she obtains permission to do so from the district director having jurisdiction over his or her residence. An alien classified as an information media nonimmigrant (I) may be authorized admission for the duration of employment.

Sec. 101(a)(15)(I)


(I) upon a basis of reciprocity, an alien who is a bona fide representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media, who seeks to enter the United States solely to engage in such vocation, and the spouse and children of such a representative if accompanying or following to join him;

Since the I is a long-term ("admission for the duration of employment") nonimmigrant visa, whatever happened at LAX was likely to be a screwup.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at May 14, 2003 12:07 PM

Thanks, Lynxx!

Posted by: Matt Welch at May 14, 2003 12:37 PM

Gee. Controlling people who come and go from the United States! We stop doing that and something bad could happen.... can't guess what.

Posted by: richard l. kent at May 14, 2003 05:31 PM
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what constitutes "conducting business" versus being a "temporary worker." Simply comming to the US to cover a single convention should be the former, being on the BBC permanent crew in Washington should be the latter.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at May 14, 2003 11:27 AM

Here are the specific code sections.

Sec. 214.2(i) Representatives of information media --

The admission of an alien of the class defined in section 101(a)(15)(I) of the Act constitutes an agreement by the alien not to change the information medium or his or her employer until he or she obtains permission to do so from the district director having jurisdiction over his or her residence. An alien classified as an information media nonimmigrant (I) may be authorized admission for the duration of employment.

Sec. 101(a)(15)(I)


(I) upon a basis of reciprocity, an alien who is a bona fide representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media, who seeks to enter the United States solely to engage in such vocation, and the spouse and children of such a representative if accompanying or following to join him;

Since the I is a long-term ("admission for the duration of employment") nonimmigrant visa, whatever happened at LAX was likely to be a screwup.

Posted by: Lynxx Pherrett at May 14, 2003 12:07 PM

Thanks, Lynxx!

Posted by: Matt Welch at May 14, 2003 12:37 PM

Gee. Controlling people who come and go from the United States! We stop doing that and something bad could happen.... can't guess what.

Posted by: richard l. kent at May 14, 2003 05:31 PM
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