Visa fees for international artists to tour the United States surged 250% in April


NEW YORK (AP) — Shows in the U.S. international artist It just gets more complicated.

On April 1, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services increased visa fees by 250% for global musicians who want to tour in the United States.

Artists, advocacy groups and immigration lawyers worry it could have a devastating impact on emerging global talent and the local U.S. music economy

What’s the fare?

If you are a musician from outside the United States wishing to perform within the United States and you submitted your visa documents before April 1, the fee is $460 per application.

After that date? $1,615 to $1,655.

Bands and ensembles are paid per performer. The cost of a standard rock band with four members increases from $1,840 to approximately $6,460. If you can’t wait several months for approval, add $2,805 to each application to expedite processing.

If the application is not accepted, the money will not be refunded — in addition to the loss of a canceled trip and the loss of “important, potentially career-changing opportunities,” says Jen Jacobsen. Artists Rights Alliance.

If the musician has support staff, backing bands, or other employees on tour, these people will also need visas.

“Even if you are Capitol Records and have all the money in the world, you still can’t escape American bureaucracy,” said immigration attorney Gabriel Castro.

All international musicians require a work permit to perform in the United States. south by southwestinternational artists only perform at official showcases without receiving payment, just for exposure.

Currently, there are few barriers to American musicians entering other countries for the specific purpose of making money through live performances. Castro said U.S. performers can enter most countries without a visa and are not subject to travel rules.

What impact does it have on artists?

Gareth Paisey, independent singer, The seven-piece Welsh band Los Campesinos!They will tour the United States in June this year. The orchestra is sure to apply for the visa before the April 1 deadline, paying the fee of $3,220 or $11,305 respectively. The next time they have to get a visa, he said, they might try to squeeze two trips into a year (the duration of a specific visa) to cover the cost.

The application process requires a full year’s itinerary and additional evidence: press clippings proving one’s status as a “professional musician” and recommendations from well-known personalities, often from more famous musicians, he said.

“No one joins the band because they’re passionate about cash flow forecasting,” he said. “It’s unfair to expect someone who is good at writing songs to also be good at filling out a 20-page visa application.”

post brexitTouring Europe for British bands has become more complex, he said, but the process in the U.S. is by far the most complicated – both in terms of paperwork and musical development.

“The idea that you need to be a professional musician to get a visa, and visa fees are going up, adds to the idea that: music is a game,” Pacey said. “Part of the competition is making as much money as possible – like that’s the only effective way to be involved in the music industry.”

Why have fees gone up so much?

There are two reasons: They haven’t done this in a while, and because immigration officials are scrutinizing the process more closely.

The most recent increase was in 2016, when the fee increased from $325 to $460.

Castro, of BAL Sports and Entertainment Practice, which specializes in visas for musicians, entertainers and athletes, said the U.S. government was “putting an increasing burden on the application process.”

Twenty years ago, he said, application forms were only two or three pages. Now, they’re 15 or 20 pages.

“These are just prior forms of supporting evidence,” he said. “Now I’m submitting documents that are 200, 300 pages long just to explain why this band should be touring across the United States.”

He said officials “could have done a better job of checking for inefficiencies in the system to save money”.

Pacey said he had heard the raise would allow USCIS “to gain get rid of backlog…but is that because you will be hiring more staff, or maybe because you will be receiving fewer applications? He wanted to know because it would favor “people who can afford to go, not people who want to go or have a fan base to go.”

Why do apps change over time?

Castro said some of the reasons are to account for “abuses in the system — to make sure that individuals who are coming here to do certain activities are actually doing those activities well,” but increased scrutiny is a lingering factor. Influence Trump administration’s immigration policies.

“Overall, the immigration process has become more difficult for everyone. Whether you’re crossing the border, whether you’re coming here to perform at Madison Square Garden, whatever it is,” he said. “This changes the culture U.S. immigration agency”.

Who will this hurt?

Independent and emerging talent, as well as ensembles and groups.

Dua Lipa, rolling stones, they will pay these fees. It’s not even a rounding error. They could be wasting $1,200 in their budget and they won’t even notice,” Castro said. “Indie rock bands, niche acts, jazz musicians from Japan will be affected.”

“Every dime counts. Their margins are very small,” he added.

“We’ve run into a problem where there aren’t enough musical acts to break through to the next level,” Pesci said. “This will prevent them from having that opportunity in the United States.”

For many indie bands, he said, touring the United States is a pipe dream and in danger of “not even being a dream.”

Jacobson noted there would also be a knock-on effect: musicians, drivers, tour managers and the like who are employed to work with international talent will lose their jobs, venues will lose productive bookings and festivals focused on international talent will shrink in size , ticket fees may increase, etc.

She said these fee increases could impact American music culture — “the richness of the music ecosystem in terms of genre diversity.”

If lesser-known artists from global genres are unable to perform in the U.S., audiences will miss out on important cultural exchange opportunities. “We need the market to be friendly and open to all different types of musicians,” she said.

What’s next?

“You’re going to see a decrease in international activity coming to the United States,” Castro said. “Maybe the frequency will drop more than the absolute numbers. We’ll see fewer and fewer emerging artists.

“The harder you make it for them to come to the United States, the harder it is for you to see them here.”

The results will also be felt in the local economy: “It’s not just the mid-sized venues in Cleveland that will feel the impact, but also the parking lots on the streets, the restaurants and bars where people go back and forth.”

And there may be long-term consequences that have yet to be observed. “There’s definitely concern about reciprocity,” Jacobson said.

If the U.S. makes it increasingly difficult and expensive for musicians to come here, “why don’t other countries do the same for our artists?”





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