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Plans for US visa hike for foreign acts paused

Under proposals announced in January, the cost of visas needed for musicians working in the US would increase by more than 250%

By James Hanley on 24 Jul 2023

Tom Kiehl


US authorities have paused plans for a huge hike in the cost of visas for foreign touring musicians and crew.

Under proposals announced in January, the cost of visas needed for musicians working in the United States would increase by more than 250%.

The current petition fee would rocket from $460 to $1,655 (a 260% increase) for a regularly processed ‘O’ work visa and soar to $1,615 (251%) for a regularly processed ‘P’ visa – putting 50% of all UK tours of the US under threat according to data from trade body LIVE.

However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the US Department of Homeland Security have now reportedly agreed to delay the implementation of the rise. Consequence of Sound reports the USCIS is now delaying the rate hike until at least March 2024 and is considering lowering the rate increase altogether.

The report has been welcomed by UK Music deputy chief executive Tom Kiehl.

“UK Music is pleased that damaging proposals to severely increase US visa petition fees have been paused,” says Kiehl. “The US is a key market for UK acts and breaking America is as important now to artists’ careers as it was in the days of The Beatles.

“While we appreciate the USCIS decision to delay final rulemaking on this issue until March 2024, NIVA will continue working to stop the proposed fee increases”

“We will continue to work with music industry bodies from both the UK and overseas to ensure touring in the US is affordable for all performers and their crew.”

Stephen Parker, executive director of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in the US, says the proposed hike “poses a severe economic and cultural threat to independent live entertainment” in the country.

“It undermines the vital role these performers play on our stages,” adds Parker. “While we appreciate the USCIS decision to delay final rulemaking on this issue until March 2024, NIVA will continue working to stop the proposed fee increases.”

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) stepped up their #LetTheMusicMove campaign earlier this year in order to oppose changes to US visa applications.

#LetTheMusicMove was originally established in June 2021 to campaign for reductions in post-Brexit costs and red tape for UK artists and musicians when touring in Europe, but extended its focus following the announcement by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 


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