I'm a UK Citizen, filmmaker, travelling to the USA to visit a conference and do some filming of the event to add to some videos I'm making for the client back in the UK. It's a UK Based client.

Does that count as business so I can use an ESTA, Visa Waiver? Or do I need to get a specific visa for this? I'm only going to be filming for a couple of days and not getting paid for the filming, It's to add to the edits I’m doing in the UK which I'm obviously being paid for. Does this count as business? It's all a little confusing? If it helps I'm indulging in tourism after the event for a few days so my trip is a mixture of business and pleasure. I just don't want to arrive at the airport with my cameras and be told I'm actually in need of a visa.

Anyone with any experience or advice, I'd appreciate your input.

  • Hi Pnuts, thanks for your reply, so I can put it into perspective, what do you do? Are you a journalist? So you travel to the states? But then write when you return and that is fine under a ESTA? Thanks
    – UK Video
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:49
  • Great, I've asked a few colleagues and they've traveled on ESTA so it sounds like that makes sense. Appreciate all your help and advise
    – UK Video
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


I would suggest that you contact the US embassy or consulate closest to you because the nuance of the reason to travel might make you require a Foreign Press credentials.

If you look at the State Department's Visa Waiver Page it states:

Travel Purposes Not Permitted on Visa Waiver Program – Examples:

These are some examples of activities not permitted on the VWP and require visas for travel to the United States:.

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

Which your purpose for visit might fall under this guideline. If the consulate deems that it does fall under this guideline you may have to obtain an I visa which is specifically designed for:

A member of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film, if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information, news, or is educational in nature. The primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the United States.

But a consulate official might be a better source for this determination especially so if you will be carrying professional equipment with you.

  • Thanks, It's a tough one as it wouldn't be 'foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media' as the videos I make in the UK are just for use internally by the company so it's not actually a press/film thing, i just happen to be bringing some cameras with me to capture the event.
    – UK Video
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:51
  • Purely an opinion: you are simply attending the event of your company. The fact that you happen to be filming it - everyone has an iPhone with a camera, and many people carry fancy pro-like cameras. Purely as an opinion: I think it means nothing you're taking "some snapshots" essentially, just for your own company. Of course, "easy" visa problems are no problem until they are one :O
    – Fattie
    Aug 13, 2014 at 10:47
  • Im actually going to just attend the conference and have someone else local film it now to make life easier and avoid any potential complications. Thanks for all the input though. Appreciated
    – UK Video
    Aug 13, 2014 at 16:40

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