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UK Music calls on minister to block US visa hike

The organisation says the plans would see fees rise by at least 251%, and is calling on cabinet ministers to intervene

By James Hanley on 02 Mar 2023

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin

UK Music is calling on business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch to help block plans for a huge rise in US visa costs for UK musicians and crew.

The organisation has written to the cabinet minister urging her to persuade her American counterparts to drop the “deeply damaging” hike that it says would see fees rise by at least 251%.

In the letter, signed by organisations from across the British industry, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin highlights the potential impact of the proposed increase in fees by the US Department of Homeland Security for certain types of touring visa fees for non-US citizens.

Music industry leaders are also urging foreign secretary James Cleverly to join efforts to scrap the hike, which is also being fiercely opposed by the American music industry.

“America is one of the most important global markets for British musicians, and breaking into the States can be critical to a musician or band’s career – but this increase in visa fees risks making a US tour unaffordable for emerging acts,” says Njoku-Goodwin. “These deeply damaging proposals would be catastrophic, both for UK artists and for their American audiences who have a huge appetite for British music. These plans must be scrapped.

“We call on ministers to urgently raise this issue with their US counterparts and work with them to avoid an outcome that would be mutually detrimental”

“The UK and US have enjoyed decades of mutually beneficial musical exchange that have strengthened our special relationship and brought huge social, cultural and economic benefits. We should be making it easier for musicians to tour the States, not harder. We call on ministers to urgently raise this issue with their US counterparts and work with them to avoid an outcome that would be mutually detrimental to both our countries.”

In a survey by UK Music members, Music Managers Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), 70% of their members said the increased visa charges would mean they were no longer be able to tour the USA. Little Simz cancelled her US tour last year, even before the proposed price hikes were announced, citing the financial unviability for an independent artist.

According to the Musicians Union, 96% of their members surveyed said that increased fees will impact the feasibility of future touring, and 26% noted that they will now make a loss on their tours because of this.

Data from trade body LIVE shows that these proposals will put 50% of all UK tours in the USA under threat. The proposals mean that petition fees for the P visa – used for acts to perform temporarily in the US – will increase by 251% from $460 (£385) to $1,615 (£1352) and the O visa – used for a longer-term working visit – would climb by 260% from $460 (£385) to $1,655 (£1,375).

Also, the time for fast processing of applications is being increased from 15 calendar days to 15 working days, without a decrease in costs, for a service that already costs $2,500 (£2,080).


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