Why is the U.S. punishing foreign musicians with higher visa fees? This is going to hurt – National

In the fall of 2020, when COVID-19 shut down the live music industry, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security quietly suggested increasing the cost of visas required for foreign musicians wanting to tour the United States.

New asking price forP-3″ The visa required for musicians wanting to perform live in the US will rise from $460 to $690, a 67% increase. another document, 4 Flavors of the ‘O’ Visa (required by persons with “extraordinary abilities or achievements”, or companions/relatives of such persons) also had a proposed increase.

These proposals landed when no one was on the road, so the timing suggests that the US wanted to hide the new tolls under the radar. There was some initial talk about the situation, but with the COVID lockdown coming up months ago, no one was paying much attention. No price increase was implemented.

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But earlier this year, the United States Citizens and Immigration Service (USIC) tried again. This time, the all-important ‘P’ visa jumps from US$460 to US$1,615. This is his 250% increase. Let’s break this down:

  • US$1,615 for solo artist or band (P visa)
  • US$1,615 for road crew (P via)
  • USD 190 per relative/companion (minimum)

Assuming a four-piece band, their road crew, manager, and one boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, that’s US$3,420 (approximately C$4,600 CAD) before reaching the border. Actually, she should apply at least three months in advance. I leave the house. Sure, the petition can be expedited by her in five days or so, but it will cost an additional US$1,440 (or approximately US$1,935 CAD). This means that in total the band will pay her $6,535 Canadian dollars before receiving her dime from the tour. This is of course in addition to transportation, fuel, salary, hotel room and food.

Of course, these costs have also risen. With so much touring activity, gear, truck and bus rental costs are skyrocketing. And with so many roadies out of business due to COVID-19, their workforce and expertise are in short supply and cost more.

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The Department of Homeland Security/USIC says the visa fee needs to be increased after a 42% increase since 2016 when P visas rose from about US$275 to the current US$460. At the time it raised some red flags, but for the most part this has become a normal cost of doing business.

So why hike now? Proceeds from the new super-high fees will be used (at least in part) to hire more people to deal with the backlog of post-corona visa applications. Some funds will also help pay for some US asylum programs. In other words, the U.S. government is making foreign action pay for its inability to coordinate bureaucratic action on its borders.

If you’re an act of a certain scale, the new fees are just another troubling item on your tour budget spreadsheet. This kind of money dooms your chances of touring the world’s biggest music market if you’re even a solid mid-sized group.

This is a disaster because it is very expensive to stay home and travel only in Canada. And if it’s too expensive to tour the US, I see the problem. A growing number of Canadian artists are looking to Europe instead, which has its own financial problems.

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For example, let’s say you’re in a solid middle-class band. The band often escapes south to play several border cities on short regional tours. Cities such as Buffalo and Detroit host many of these shows. But that’s not possible when you’re stuck in a hole with $4,600 to begin with. And imagine the panic of a Mexican band wanting to head north for a tour.

are you OK. So let’s retaliate by raising visa fees for American bands who want to play here. The crazy thing is that this has no reciprocity. Depending on the number of dates the American artist wishes to perform in Canada, the cost of a visa — wait for it — zero.

These proposed new fees will affect all touring activity around the world, in case only Canadian musicians appear to be being asked to pay for the U.S. bureaucratic mismanagement. There is a British campaign that has been Featured Artist Coalition called let the music moveIts goal was to get people “to call on the UK government to do more to support the future of the music industry, and to raise awareness of the proposal to significantly increase the cost of performers seeking visas to perform in the United States.” It is asking people to “enhance.”

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There was also call by music admin forum to do something. 84% of acts under the control of member managers want to tour the United States, but 70% of them say they will abandon those plans if a fee is incurred.

(The UK needs to be careful about accountability. Since Brexit it has been very difficult for British bands to tour the continent and vice versa. recent predicament A good example is the German band Trigger Happy. They ruined our UK tour because of border bureaucracy. Meanwhile, it is estimated that post-Brexit costs for British bands to tour the continent have increased by at least 40%. )

Even the larger acts pay attention to cost and hassle.The Who’s Roger Daltrey was recently told United States of America today It is doubtful whether the band will tour the United States again.[T]Since COVID our lives have become very difficult. We can’t get insurance and most big bands have arena shows. By the time they do their first show and rehearsals, collect the staging and crew, all the buses and hotels, you’re going from $600,000 to over $1 million. If you do, you won’t start earning until your 7th or 8th show. ”

The US needs to be careful with this cash grab. Andrew Cash, President and CEO, Canadian Independent Music Association wrote an editorial for globe and mail:

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In the United States, research has shown that for every $1 spent on concert tickets, there is a $3.30 ripple effect in the local economy. Oxford Economics Group,” Cash wrote.

“That multiplier includes concert-goer spending on transportation, band merchandise, food and drink, lodging, retail, recreation, and more. Musicians spend an average of US$3,000 a week on food, gas and lodging.In total, Canadian Independent Music Association estimates that Canadian touring contributes more than US$2 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Include artists from the UK, Europe and Asia in this list, not to mention Mexico and South America, and you’d think even the world’s biggest music market would want a piece of this action.”

It’s really insane. How does this win out for anyone other than USIC and Homeland Security?

Your entire career hinges on results. Ottawa needs to do something.

Alan Cross Broadcaster for Q107 and 102.1 the Edge, and a commentator for Global News.

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