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Visas for artists touring the US to increase by 129% in April

Marking the first adjustment to fees since 2016, concerns have been raised over the impact the changes could have on lesser-known artists

  • 14 February 2024
Visas for artists touring the US to increase by 129% in April

From April onwards the US is increasing fees for various visas including artist visas which will rise in cost by 129%, according to new rules published by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services [UCIS].

The increase marks the first time visa fees have been adjusted since 2016 and is reportedly to cover operating costs and allow more timely processing of applications.

The USCIS announced the ‘Final Rule’ last week after plans were first proposed in January 2023.

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In a 2023 report covering proposed changes, NPR wrote, that though various sectors from tech to agriculture are likely to be impacted, musicians have "been among the loudest critics."

Executive director of Avokafo Artists in Albuquerque, Tom Frouge, told NPR: "It's a really crazy situation. Since the pandemic, things have gotten harder anyway, and this is adding, like, just another little, like, knife stab in the gut, you know?" Frouge stressed the impact this might have on "lesser-known artists."

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A year later, said plans have been approved and will now be effective April 1st. The new legislation will see the O visa rise from US$460 to US$1055 and the P visa rise from US$460 to US$1015, reports RA. Last year, O and P visas’ were proposed to rise to US$1,655 and US$1,615, marking the increases as lower than anticipated.

The O-1 visa is available to people with extraordinary ability in art, science, education, business, or athletics. To be eligible for the visa, artists must be able to prove their notable talent skill and/or success.

The criteria include evidence of performing at events with a “distinguished reputation,” national or international notoriety across publications and or a high salary due to their work in the field. Artists eligible for the O visa can be granted up to three years.

The P-1 visa is a shorter-term visa with a maximum issue date of one year. Available to performing groups of international recognition, the P visa allows visa holders to enter the US for the duration of a performance or specific event.

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Additional fees are to be included among increases. Large employers filing for the O and P visas will be required to pay an Asylum Program Fee of US$600 and for Small employers, this fee will be US$300.

The application’s “expedited processing” service will increase from US$2,500 to US$2,805 starting February 26 reports RA. This service will reduce processing time from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.

September last year, The Chemical Brothers told Music Tech that rising costs were among the reasons they could not play shows in the US.

In 2023, Mixmag investigated how the cost of living crisis has impacted various areas of the music industry including nightclubs, festivals, DJs, Producers, and club-goers.

The USCIS reports that it has taken feedback received in 2023 into consideration and the 'Final Rule' will allow fee exemptions for special cases including, non-profit organisations, small businesses, fees for those under 14 years old, low-income households and non-profit organisations.

Belle Richardson is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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