US to raise artist visa application fees by 50%

Increased fees and policy changes to take effect from 2 October.

American Visa

Photo: Alexander W Helin

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Foreign artists intending to work in the US will have to face increased visa application fees and changes in policy from 2 October 2020 and onwards.

The fee hikes affect both the O and P visas, which petitioners – US residents or employers – have regularly used to bring foreign artists into the country.

The P visa lasts for a short-term visa and regularly covers touring artists, orchestras and other stage talent, while the O visa lasts for three years.

Filing fees for O visa petitions – which cover “Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement” – will be raised from $460 to $705, marking an increase of 53 per cent.

The P visa – which also covers entertainers, athletes and the families of applicants – will cost 51 per cent more, going from $460 to $695.

A change in policy has also capped each petition at maximum of 25 individuals. This means that larger ensembles, such as a 90-piece orchestra will have to apply for four visas in order to cover all its members.

The Premium Processing Service from the US Citizenship And Immigration Services (USCIS) – which costs $1,440 and allows organisations to fast-track visa processing – has also changed its time frame from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.

The changes were first proposed back in November 2019, and was met with criticism from the arts sector. Some commenters noted that the proposal would “harm local communities, small businesses, and non-profits, as artists would be unable to afford to perform [in the United States].”

Several others stated that “if artists are unable to come to the US, the public will be denied the opportunity to ‘experience international artistry.’”

However, the DHS stated that its new fees are “intended to recover the estimated full cost to USCIS of providing immigration adjudication and naturalisation services.”

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