Dear FAI Community,
If you haven’t heard already, we are reaching out to make you aware of recent proposals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to increase visa fees, including those for O and P artist visas filed by U.S. petitioners to bring non-U.S. performers/musicians to the U.S.
By proposing to increase fees by more than 250% (over $1,600 per petition with additional changes to the filing procedures and application process), these proposals could inflict economic harm to the creative economy including to our artistic and presenting community that is still recovering from the effects of COVID-19.
Many in our community are filing comments with the U.S. government stating that these proposed increases are disproportionate and inappropriate for music creatives and the arts sector at large (many of whom are primarily small businesses) and that they should not bear the same increase as major corporations and businesses. In these past weeks, FAI itself has also been working inside a coalition of several other arts organizations to develop and file a comprehensive formal comment.
For those of you who haven’t filed a comment as of yet, we encourage you to read about it and let your voices be heard. It is important that we collectively take the time to describe the artistic and economic impact of these proposals.
What can you do?
We encourage everyone to share their individual stories by submitting comments through the Federal Register portal during the public comment period, which ends on March 13th, 2023, after which DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) anticipate taking several months to review public feedback and consider adjustments.
When you submit comments, it’s important to include the impact these changes would have on your business and livelihood as someone working in the performing arts industry. Personal stories will have the strongest impact — and luckily, this is what the folk community does best.
U.S. citizens especially, please lend your voices as the U.S. government will primarily consider comments from US citizens and businesses.
Some additional points our community is including in their comments:
- Arts presenters and stakeholders in all parts of the U.S. engage international artists and do not have the ability to pay these proposed fees.
- Drastic fee increases will stifle international cultural activity, put U.S.-based jobs at risk, and have a negative economic ripple effect on communities supported by arts events.
- Any fee increase must be accompanied by improvements to the visa process to make it more efficient and reliable.
Artists might include:
- What would be at stake — financially, artistically/programmatically, and operationally
- How international activity supports your career
- The impact that increased costs will have on performance opportunities, particularly given the ongoing recovery from the pandemic
Presenters might include:
- What would be at stake — financially, artistically/programmatically, and operationally?
- Would entire performances be canceled if you had to file fewer or no visas at all in a season? What would that cost?
- What does it cost when an already-planned program has to be canceled, rescheduled, or a last-minute substitution is made due to unresolved visa issues?
- How much money do you budget for filing fees and occasionally engaging legal assistance for filing visa petitions?
USCIS is asking for feedback on their assumptions around our ability to pay — what kind of data can you provide that would refute their calculations, which look at total budget or sales revenue?
If you’re not a U.S. citizen: please consider reaching out to all U.S. buyers, venues, artists, associations, etc., you may work with, to seek their assistance, and use their platform to help spread the word and the call-to-action.