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Proposed Legislation to Help Touring Canadians Enter U.S.

April 11, 2016 – As recently reported, visa processing delays by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers have become a major problem for Canadian touring artists and U.S. presenters. In an attempt to resolve the issues, a bipartisan legislation was recently introduced in the Congress.

The proposed “Bringing Entertainment Artists to the States” (BEATS) Act is intended to streamline the process of obtaining a P-2 classification for Canadian artists.

The P-2 classification is for artists and entertainers, individually or as a group (including essential support personnel), performing in the United States under a bilateral, reciprocal exchange program. The only P-2 programs at the moment are conducted under the auspices of the American Federation of Musicians (with the Canadian Federation of Musicians) and Actors' Equity (with the Canadian Actors' Equity Association).

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Under the BEATS Act, Canadian artists would be able to file a P-2 petition for admission into the United States with an immigration officer at any Class A port of entry located on the border of the United States and Canada, or at any pre-clearance station at a Canadian airport, right on their way into the US. The Act would also provide Canadian artists the flexibility to alter the dates and venues of performances listed in the original petition. The only stipulation is that the additional performances or engagements cannot be more than one third of the performances or engagements listed on the original petition.

The proposed Act however has limitations. First, it would only assist Canadian artists applying for a visa through one of the P-2 union reciprocal programs that are currently established with the American Federation of Musicians and Actors' Equity. Second, artists choosing to process their petition at a port of entry would run the risk of seeing the petition turned down by a border official, which would result in last-minute cancellations. Third, it is unlikely that Congress will pass the Act before the November election.

In spite of this, the Beats Act, just like the Arts Require Timely Service Act, is another positive step towards raising awareness of the challenges related immigration for Canadian artists touring in the United States.

Sources: Canadian Independent Music Association and Canadian Federation of Musicians

 

 

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