From the Beatles to the Sex Pistols, the opportunity to see foreign performers on U.S. soil has brought joy, insight, inspiration, and culture-broadening experiences to America’s 9- to 90-year-old children. Now, our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to make it much more difficult for Americans to experience contractors outside our border.
In a proposal published in the Federal Register last month, DHS wants, among proposed fee increases for many dozens of categories of entry into the US, to increase the entry fee for what is known as a “P visa,” for temporary stay in the US. US for performance, from $460 to $1,615, more than tripling.
The long-term “O visa” for contractors would jump slightly more, from $460 to $1,655. The two categories of visas have, in addition to their costs, of course, a lot of other complicated rules.
This comes at a time when the inflationary pressure on equipment and staff required for touring is already forcing many mid- and lower-level acts to question whether touring, especially in countries other than your home, is still a viable business at the prices audiences seem willing to pay.
Much of the new fee is said to be designed to help spread the costs of asylum claims across the body of people seeking entry to the US for any reason.
British music magazine New Music Express reports that:
Some Canadian authorities have spoken out against the proposed changes, stating that “it is a great difficulty to pay such high visa fees”.
The weather station’s Tamara Lindeman said on Twitter: “If you are a US citizen or organization please make an official comment on this – instructions below – For context we already spend thousands of dollars just on visas to enter the US; it’s the only country where let’s go with these exorbitant visa costs.”
Lindeman wrote in a follow-up tweet: “It’s a big hassle paying such high visa fees, with 30% withholding tax when we play in the US. It’s hard enough to make money on tour as it is.”
In the email sent StereogumTom McGreevy of Ducks Ltd. said: “This is a pretty big deal for bands from other countries, as it’s a significant burden especially for newer bands, but it’s also something that would significantly affect American audiences, as it will discourage a lot of bands from touring and taking the first steps in building an audience here.”
The proposed rule change is still in the comment phase until March 6. Artist visa fees have been the same since 2016.
The ways in which government funds are funded are strange and complex: Although the proposed rule change, DHS claims, “will result in annual payment transfers from
applicants/applicants to USCIS [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] of approximately $1,612,133,742, at the same time “DHS estimates the annual net cost to the public [of the changes] would be $532,379,138.”
DHS’s visa requirements and its inability to manage them smartly have plagued tourists, students and guest workers recently, as Fiona Harrigan previously reported here in January 2022 and November 2021 Reason.