Online only, so far

NUJ opens door to USA

JOURNALISTS have to apply for a special visa to do their work in the USA, no matter how short the visit proposed. It's called an "I visa" and the online application and then the personal appearance at the Embassy represent teeth-gnashing toil at the best of times. (Does the UK do the same in reverse to US journos coming here?)

Freelances have to go through the extra argy-bargy of getting some kind of commissioning letter from a client to prove an upcoming job - but then we routinely get given a five-year visa, which is nice, eventually. And, of course, they never ask you whether you're a member of the union. Nonetheless...

With frequent US interviews in prospect for a new outlet, LFB member X got it all right and went for his interview.

The first problem he faced was he was born in the Antipodes, though based in UK for donkey's so the Visa Bloke (VB) said he could have a six-month "I Visa" and think himself lucky. X pressed his case for five years to avoid repeated messings-about and found himself jogging round in circles as follows...

VB: "You are freelance, not staff, so you could just stop being a journalist tomorrow and you'd have a very long visa that no longer applied to your situation."

X: "But I've been a journalist for 30 years, why would I stop tomorrow?"

VB: "But you are freelance."

X: "And if I was on staff, what's to stop me resigning my job tomorrow anyway?"

VB: "But you are freelance."

X: "But if I stopped being a journalist I could just enter on the visa waiver scheme regardless."

VB: "But you are freelance."

X: "I can't afford 130 quid plus another 50 in train fares to come to London every six months."

VB: "But you are freelance."

But here's the science part. He suddenly thought of his NUJ press card, brandished it and... a five-year I Visa was his.

Says pleasantly surprised X: "I was granted five years purely because I had an NUJ press card. So, for anyone who isn't a member, there's yet another reason to join the NUJ." Re handling officialdom partout, he adds it's "worth noting, too, that calm(ish) and reasonable argument can get you somewhere with them, and you don't have to just accept their judgement."

Last modified: 10 Dec 2013 - © 2013 contributors
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