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Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
24 July 2023, 15:54

Visa fee increase for international touring musicians delayed by US government

Petiton fees could leap from $460 to approximately $1,655 

Visa fee increase for international touring musicians delayed by US government

A proposed increase in visa petition fees for artists touring the US has been delayed amid mounting pressure to reconsider the 250% price hike. 

According to Consequence of Sound, the new higher costs, first announced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in January, will now come into effect from March 2024.

P and O class visas will be impacted, which artists, entertainers, and many creative industry workers need to legally undertake jobs in the US on short-term visits and offer the ability to return within a timeframe of between one and three years. Based on the new proposal, the cost of filing a visa petition would leap from $460 to $1,615 for a P Visa, for shorter trips, and from $460 to $1,655 for a longer-stay O visa. The cost of filing the petition is distinct from the application fee, which is $205.

However, campaigners and politicians are actively trying to persuade the USCIS to u-turn on the proposal over fears it could discourage overseas talent from undertaking American tours, especially those at the grass roots and early career stages. It's also thought there could be a negative impact on ticket prices for events, which have already rocketed in recent years. 

“USCIS proposal to drastically increase visa fees for international performers poses a severe economic and cultural threat to independent live entertainment in the U.S. It undermines the vital role these performers play on our stage," said Stephen Parker, Executive director of the National Independent Venue Association.

"A 2023 survey of independent venues, festivals, and promoters revealed that international talent accounts for over a quarter of performances at an average venue and can even make up 100 percent of performances for Latin music promoters," he continued. "While we appreciate the USCIS decision to delay final rule-making on this issue until March 2024, NIVA will continue working to stop the proposed fee increases.”

In the wake of Brexit, visa costs and requirements for European artists touring the UK, and vice versa, have also increased and become more complex. Revisit DJ Mag's feature looking at what this means here.

Update 12th February 2024: This article has been updated to amend incorrect figures