The deadline has been extended to March 22 to apply for an all-expenses paid workshop in Chicago April 10 – 12.

Meet and learn from leading journalists and experts on:

  • How to cover the U.S. visa system
  • How to understand and identify data sources
  • How to pull stories from complex systems

The reporting workshop for journalism and journalism students on covering the U.S. visa system will be held at Columbia College in Chicago April 10-12.

This specialized reporting institute offers expert knowledge and resources to report on the dozens of visa programs that allow millions of  people into the Unites States each year.

Organized by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting with support from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and The Poynter Institute, the workshop is called “Covering the United States Visa System In Your Own Backyard.”

It is  one of five funded this year by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Deadline to apply is now March 22, and you can apply online here. Travel, lodging and tuition are all included. There are 20 spots available.

Journalists will come out of this workshop equipped with basic resources, story ideas and the know how to report on the impact of this topic in both local and state government settings. Journalists will also learn how to put it all in the context of immigration issues.

With the continuing concerns over immigration, national security and the impact of visa programs on workers, labor and local economies, journalists need now more than ever the resources to report on the dozens of visa programs that allow some to pay their way in and others to wait years for a change in status.

In 2013, more than 9 million visas were issued. Those visas were for more common ones, such as student visas, to lesser known visas like the investor visa, which gives immigrants residency in exchange for an investment in the U.S. economy that nets a total of 10 local jobs.

In another program, a special visa waiver program allows an average of 20 million more people a year from select countries to visit without a visa. And in yet another random-selection program, 50,000 people can win a visa into the country if they have a sponsor.

And recently, the U.S. and China announced a deal to allow even more visas exchanged between the two countries.

These visa programs – which bring workers and visitors into nearly every community – are rife with fraud, according to federal government reports.

Yet, proposed legislation now aims to bring more foreign nationals to the United States for work, although local and state governments aren’t prepared to deal with the increases.

Journalists are often thrown into a visa story without background or resources. This training will show where to find reports, audits, and studies, how to contact and cultivate the best human sources and how to recognize the stories that are often overlooked.

For more information, please contact us at 312-970-0395 or email Pam Dempsey at

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