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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

US Senate hears bill to improve artist visas


Today brings important policy news for orchestras that engage artists from across the globe to partner with U.S. musicians in concerts, education programs, and the development of new artistic works. Legislation to make the artist visa process more reliable and affordable was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, S. 2510, would improve opportunities for international cultural activity by ensuring that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes artist visas on time.

Orchestras and other nonprofit performing arts organizations must apply for an O or P Visa when engaging international artists for performances. While USCIS pledged in 2010 to process these visas within the timeframe required under current law, applications for artists undergo long delays and extreme inconsistency by USCIS, often forcing nonprofit U.S. arts organizations to pay for unaffordable expedited processing, or risk cancelling scheduled performers. Under the ARTS Act, USCIS would be required to provide expedited processing free-of-charge if a visa petition filed by, or on behalf of, a U.S. nonprofit arts organization is not processed on time.

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