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Old September 8th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #1
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UK Doc crews need US Visa?

I have been contacted by a UK Doc crew, that wants to come over to the US and shoot for about a week. Mostly an interview with a speaker, and a seminar sort of thing.

Figure there will be a producer, DP and maybe a sound op - and a bucket full of gear.

She said she applied for an "I Visa" - which is a media visa - and was told they weren't being issued to small indy crews any longer.

Anyone from across the pond that can give me a headsup on what they'll need or encounter when coming over. Hard to say it's a 'vacation' if they are lugging four Pelican Cases of gear. What worked for you? What problems did you have? Did you need 'work permits' or permissions to come shoot?

Thanks in advance - oh great and vast unpaid research department of DVINFO. NET
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 8th, 2009, 06:46 PM   #2
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Not sure about visas work permits etc, but it might be a good idea to have a carnet for the gear - it's sort of a passport for stuff and avoids the potential problem of having to pay duty on the gear.

Beyond that I don't think I've heard much about there being an issue with coming to the US on a business trip - my clients do it all the time, although without a lot of video stuff.

Hmm - it does occur to me that someone had posted a horror story about a run in with US immigration.
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Old September 9th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #3
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I used to live across the pond (Switzerland),
and yes, we needed an "I visa" to work in the States:
when we applied, we (Swiss Broadcasting Corp.) sent the US embassy an
"assignment confirmation" on official letterhead,
stating what kind of documentary or report we wanted to shoot,
and the locations (we were probably overzealous, but...).
And yes!, we traveled with a carnet (ohmy, memories
of running left and right to find the right guy
who would handle the thing...)

I didn't know the US no longer issues "I visas" to "small indy crews":
mmmh, that's one hell of a problem.
One thing's for sure: I wouldn't land @ JFK with no visa
and four Pelicans; that's a huge no-no to me...
How about trying to get "endorsed" by an official TV station?
(other ideas might involve renting the equipment in the US,
but that would imply:
1) finding PAL cameras - not a problem;
2) illegal behavior, i.e. entering the US on the Visa Waiver Program:
for obvious reasons, I CANNOT recommend it...)

I'd try to go the "official endorsement" route.
Just my 2 pennies, of course...


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Vasco Dones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 9th, 2009, 10:49 AM   #4
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When you said that I visas aren't bring issued anymore for small crews, maybe it means that they aren't necessary. Did your contact ask them what kind of visa if any would be needed instead of an I visa? The idea that no small independent group comes to the US to film doesn't seem reasonable so there must either be a different visa - or maybe no requirement for a visa. I'd think that someone at the US Embassy would have an answer.

Anyhow, my specific knowledge is limited to using Carnets to bring equipment in from Japan temporarily for customer demos and trade shows, etc. I made sure the folks sending the equipment got one - saves all kinds of hassles like me being chased by California for "importing" $60k gadgets for which they wanted me to pay sales tax long after the stuff had been shipped back to Japan.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #5
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Don’t know if this info is a bit late, but someone may find it useful.

Film Video crews in the UK can apply for a Carnet at a local Chamber of Commerce where there will be an “Issuing Fee” (approx £260.00) – they in turn will send the details (forms that need filled in and signed) to The London Chamber of Commerce for processing and there will be an “Indemnity Fee” for the Carnet (approx £400 per £45,000 worth of gear). You also have the option of setting up a bankers draft with your own bank (costing less) to cover the indemnity fee.

We use our local Chamber of Commerce because they help us keep the costs down and help with the form filling which, if not carefully done, can end up costing you substantially more than it needs to. There are all kinds of funny rules about different equipment so it pays to get professional guidance.

You can also pay someone to take you through customs for about £240.00

We also carry copies of all receipts / serial numbers of the equipment being taken in/out of countries whether in or outside of the Euro zone, and we also get a letter from the company within that country detailing the contract of hire.

We have travelled to the USA in the past without a carnet with a lot of gear which security pulled apart for a good look and we were okay, but we would not do that nowadays.

The other things to consider are, to make sure that the equipment is fully insured and that liability insurance covers worldwide. Permits are also needed in certain areas and that should be checked.

Hope that’s of some help to the UK folks.

Regards: Stu
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Old September 14th, 2009, 02:38 AM   #6
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Whenever I've filmed in the USA for a UK producer I've needed a visa. Of course, we had full 16mm film kit, so you couldn't get away with saying it's a hobby. They should check with the US Embassy about the visa requirements, you don't want to mess with US Immigration.
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