If adopted, the proposed rule will establish a fixed time period of admission and an extension of stay procedure for “Representatives of Foreign Information Media”. Under the proposed rule, most foreign journalists would be admitted for a maximum of 240 days. The applications would remain pending after their period of admission.
Citing security concerns, Homeland Security says it plans to replace the current visa system with a fixed period visa for foreign journalists, students and exchange visitors.
The maximum period granted for a journalist to stay will be 240 days. Correspondents who wish to remain in the US longer than their approved duration will have to apply for an extension of stay for a maximum of another 240 days or leave.
“It is not at all clear how the stay of foreign professional journalists in the United States can threaten the country’s national security,” said WAN-IFRA CEO Vincent Peyregne.
“The US administration’s proposed rules to limit the stay of foreign journalists in the country is a discriminatory measure that seeks to fix a problem that does not exist. It is a new assault on the press, which should be able to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information an ideas through any media, and regardless of frontiers,” Peyregne added.
WAN-IFRA is urging publishers, editors and representatitive organisations to take the opportunity to comment online on the changes before the deadline on hthe 26th October. Comments may be submitted on the proposed rule here, using DHS Docket No. ICEB-2019-0006.
In a message to members of the Overseas Press Club of America, Ian Williams, President of the Foreign Press Association, said “almost by stealth, Homeland Security is proposing ill-considered changes that will dampen foreign reporting in the U.S. and on the U.N. – while risking provoking foreign governments to retaliate with restrictions on U.S. reporters going abroad. Foreign Reporting of the U.S. and the U.N. is about to be completely transformed with “I” visa changes that threaten the livelihoods and legality of foreign correspondents – and no one is reporting it or protesting!”
Williams fears the new visa will limit flexibility and introduce continual uncertainty. “Good luck getting an apartment or office lease for 240 days! And anyone who thinks renewal of status will be seamless and assured has not been doing much reporting on life in the USA recently! One cannot underestimate the threats to freedom of the press.”
Being scrutinized by Homeland Security every 240 days is bound to have a dampening effect on reporters’ objectivity, Williams said.
Publishers and editors are being asked to protest urgently about proposed changes to visa rules which could affect the duration of foreign correspondents’ stay in the USA. Consultation on the proposal closes on Monday 26 October.
24 GLOBAL MEDIA, NEWS & JOURNALIST ORGANIZATIONS CALL ON THE US GOVERNMENT TO DROP PLANS TO SHORTEN VISA LENGTH FOR FOREIGN JOURNALISTS. READ MORE
ABOUT WAN-IFRA WAN-IFRA is the World Association of News Publishers. Based in Paris and Frankfurt, with regional offices in Chennai, Singapore, and Mexico City, its mission is to protect the rights of journalists and publishers around the world to operate independent media. WAN-IFRA provides its members with expertise and services to innovate and prosper in a digital world and perform their crucial role in society. With formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, it derives its authority from its global network of leading news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, and its legitimacy from its 80 national association members representing 18,000 publications in 120 countries. www.wan-ifra.org