Visas for International Artists
What Is At Stake
Foreign guest artists engaged by U.S. arts-related organizations are required to obtain an O visa for individual foreign artists, or a P visa for groups of foreign artists, reciprocal exchange programs, and culturally unique artists. Artists and nonprofit arts organizations have confronted uncertainty in gaining approval for visa petitions due to lengthy and inconsistent processing times, inconsistent interpretation of statute and implementation of policies, expense, and unwarranted requests for further evidence.
The nature of scheduling, booking, and confirming highly sought after guest soloists and performing groups requires that the timing of the visa process be efficient and reliable. Otherwise the American public may be denied the opportunity to experience international artistry and American artists scheduled to work alongside international guest artists may lose important employment opportunities. The bottom line is impacted for nonprofit arts groups that have a financial obligation to their audiences.
Comprehensive immigration reform provides an opportunity to make enduring improvements to the visa process, therefore we ask Congress to include enactment of the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) provision in any immigration reform effort. USCIS would be required to treat any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to adjudicate within the 14-day statutory timeframe as a Premium Processing case (additional 15-day turn around), free of additional charge. The ARTS provision has strong bipartisan support and is included in the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill.
What We Are Asking Right Now
We urge Congress to:
- Enact the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, which will require USCIS to ensure timely processing for visa petitions filed by, or on behalf of, nonprofit arts-related organizations. We urge USCIS to enforce current statutory requirements, which instruct them to process O and P arts visas in 14 days.
- How would it work? The ARTS provision would reduce total maximum processing times for O and P nonprofit artist visa petitions to under 30 days. Currently, USCIS provides Premium Processing within 15 calendar days for petitioners able to pay an extra $1,250 fee – which is unaffordable for most arts organizations. Under the ARTS Act, USCIS would be required to treat as a Premium Processing case—free of additional charge—any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to process within the 14 days required in current law. The PAA is working with Congress, USCIS, and the Department of State to implement common sense administrative reforms to lower the visa processing times for foreign guest artists.
- Persuade USCIS to take ongoing administrative action to improve the artist visa process.
Information provided by the Performing Arts Alliance.
APAP is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance.