Musicians are rallying to prevent US touring visa cost jump

today14/03/2023 2

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Musicians in the USA and abroad have been fighting to oppose a proposed hike in the fees for touring visas for international artists, with a public commentary on the policy ending yesterday (March 14).

The new guidelines, proposed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would see costs for O-1 and P-2 touring visas more than triple under the new policy, with the O-1 visas for “individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement” increasing from $460 to $1,655. P-2 visas would jump from $460 to $1,615.

The USCIS, part of the Department of Homeland Security, proposed the changes in January, arguing that the new rates would reflect an increase in costs at the agency.

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The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW), launched a letter campaign, urging US musicians to write to their local congressperson, arguing that the proposed hike to international artist touring costs would hurt local musicians and the music industry as well, providing fewer opportunities for smaller artists.

In a statement posted on Action Network, the UMAW wrote: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) has proposed to more than triple the visa fees that international musicians must pay to tour the United States.

“Under this proposal the cost for P and O visas would go from $460 to over $1600 (a 250%) increase, drastically affecting international artists as well as broader U.S. music and cultural industries,” it continued.

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“The cost of the current visas were already prohibitive for many, but the rising costs associated with touring paired with the tripled cost of a visa will severely impact the desire and ability for international artists to perform here, affecting lower-income and marginalized artists the most.

“If these fees go up, we will see the negative economic effects in the communities supported by arts events, with U.S. based jobs in the cultural sector being put at risk. Venues, festivals, booking agents, labels and promoters will all bear the brunt of these via increases, and consumers will see prices increase for concert tickets and merchandise from international artists.”

A number of artists including Primal Scream bassist Simone Marie Butler, and band Easy Life have spoken out against the proposals, with the latter cancelling their US tour last month (February 2023).

Isaac Muk is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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