Visa Alert: Ask USCIS to Improve the Visa Process! - (July 15, 2010)

Ask USCIS to Improve the Visa Process!
 
Orchestras experiencing difficulty obtaining artist visas have a new opportunity to weigh in with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as the agency proposes an across-the-board fee increase. The USCIS proposes a $5 increase in the fee for the regular I-129 visa processing form (which would bring the fee to $325), and a $225 increase in the Premium Processing fee (bringing the total fee to $1,225). The performing arts community is urging USCIS to immediately make long-overdue improvements to the regular artist visa process and to refrain from increasing the already-unaffordable Premium Processing fee. Comments to USCIS are due by July 26. The League will submit detailed comments on behalf of orchestras, in collaboration with our national colleagues in the Performing Arts Visa Working Group: American Federation of Musicians, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance/USA, North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents, OPERA America, Performing Arts Alliance, and Theatre Communications Group.

Please note: Until the USCIS issues a final rule regarding the proposed fee change, the filing fee for the I-129 form remains $320 and the fee for Premium Processing Service remains $1,000. We will inform you immediately when and if fee changes are made. In the meantime, do not adjust the fees that accompany your petition, as overpayment will result in serious delays.
 
Sample Message to Personalize
 
If your orchestra has recently encountered a visa challenge, please participate in the USCIS comment process. We have prepared sample comments that should be personalized with details of your orchestra's experience, along with some background information you may find helpful. Personalizing your message is extremely important. Each comment is read and documented by the agency, and "cookie cutter" messages have less impact than those including specific details. Remember to include the first line noting the DHS docket number!

Re: DHS Docket No. USCIS–2009–0033
 
The following comments are in response to the proposed rule to adjust the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigration and naturalization benefit application and petition fee schedule.

  • We call upon USCIS to make immediate and long-overdue improvements to the regular visa process, including meeting the current 14-day statutory requirement for processing times of regularly-filed O and P petitions, and improving the quality of petition adjudication. Any increase in the regular processing fee must be accompanied by these improvements.
  • USCIS failure to make improvements in the regular petition process has resulted in delays and unwarranted requests for evidence or denials, which force some orchestras to pay the $1,000 Premium Processing Service (PPS) fee. This $1,000 fee is already unaffordable, therefore we oppose the USCIS proposal to increase the PPS fee to $1,225. Given the harmful inefficiencies of the regular petition process, this increase in Premium Processing would impose an extreme burden on nonprofit orchestra petitioners.

 

By inviting foreign musicians to perform, orchestras provide American audiences the opportunity to experience a diversity of musical talent and encourage a supportive climate for U.S. orchestras to perform abroad. Arts organizations in every area of the country must rely on the U.S. visa process to be affordable, reliable, and efficient. 
 
How to Submit Comments
 
Comments may be filed by the July 26 deadline through the federal government's regulation web portal. Visit http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments and double-check that comments are in response to "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule."

Submit Your Personalized Comments to USCIS Today!

 

Please direct any related questions to Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Najean Lee, Government Affairs & Education Advocacy Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The League is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance, a coalition of national performing arts service organizations dedicated to advocating for national policies that recognize, enhance, and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America