The Culture of Community - National Performing Arts Conference

A Change and New Challenges for Canadian Artists Entering the U.S.

June 16, 2017 – If you thought last fall's U.S. visa processing fee increase would be the last bad news from USCIS, we're afraid to tell you that isn't the case. The Artist from Abroad website reported a number of changes since March. The following could bear impact to Canadian artists.

Change to Filing Location for U.S. Visas

U.S. port of entryU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a change to filing location for artists visa petitioners. Since May 20, 2017, U.S. petitioners seeking to engage foreign guest artists (using the O or P classification) for work that will be done at a single location in Florida, Georgia, or North Carolina need to send the form I-129 and related documentation to the California Service Center. After June 20, 2017, USCIS will reject any petitions sent to the wrong service center.

As a summary, there are two USCIS service centers that receive process visa petitions: Vermont and California. The US is roughly divided down the middle between them in terms of where petitions are filed. If an artist is performing in more than one location, then the appropriate service center is determined by where the petitioner is located. If the artist is performing in only one place, then the appropriate service center is determined by where the performance will take place.

As a reminder, always file your petition as early as possible. While the change in filing location may help with the backlog at the Vermont service centre, artists shouldn't count on a faster turnaround. To be on the safe side, it is recommended to submit at least three months prior to the first performance date.

More on where and how to file petitions

Heightened Scrutiny

In further response to the Trump administration's Executive Order mandating "heightened scrutiny" and "extreme vetting", artists are increasingly being turned away when attempting to enter the US on B visas. B visas are for temporary visitors, either for business (B-1) or tourism, pleasure (B-2).

Artists are not allowed to perform in the U.S. on a B-1 visa, even if it is unpaid. There is however an exception for official showcases, as long as the performance is restricted to promoters, managers, presenters, bookers or other industry professionals who book or engage artists.

More on the “audition” or “showcase” exception

 

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