Congress Acts to Improve Visa Process, Petition Tips, IRS to Step Up Tax Enforcement (11/08/2007)
Congress Acts to Improve Visa Process
Advocacy by the nonprofit performing arts sector, including recent targeted advocacy efforts by orchestras, is producing results on the Hill.
Yesterday, legislation to improve the visa process for artists was approved by the House Judiciary commitee. The "Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act", sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and 10 other bipartisan congressional leaders, would make the artist visa process more reliable, efficient, and affordable for nonprofit arts-related petitioners.
In yesterday's House committee action, amendments that would have drastically limited the effectiveness of the ARTS Act were defeated and the Act was approved for consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives.
An identical provision, S. 2178, has been introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). As Congress finishes its work for 2007, the League and our colleagues in the Performing Arts Visa Task Force will continue to advance these improvements to the visa process. We will keep you posted regarding specific, strategic advocacy opportunities!
Inside Tips for Your Next Petition
In late September, the League met with top officials at the processing unit in California - one of two locations that processes all arts-related visa petitions -to describe the visa obstacles encountered by orchestras and gain insights into the petition process.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials were welcoming, listened to the concerns of arts petitioners, and provided helpful information about the current visa process. The California processing center alone receives nearly 60,000 petitions each month for a wide array of visa classifcations for workers and visitors traveling to the United States. Simply getting an artist's petition through the mailroom can be a significant challenge.
We've updated the ArtistsfromAbroad.org web site to reflect new tips that can help your visa petition makes its way more quickly and reliably.
IRS to Step Up Tax Enforcement
Foreign artists are subject to specific tax withholding rules. The IRS has recently announced plans to beef up enforcement of these withholding requirements. According to an IRS official, "The bottom line is the IRS is concerned that foreign athletes and entertainers pay their fair share of withholding tax and do the proper reporting for earnings in the United States."
To be sure your orchestra is familiar with the tax requirements for foreign guest artists, please consult the tax section of the Artists from Abroad web site.
As the IRS considers creating new guidance and outreach regarding foreign artist withholding, the League and our national partners are conveying the unique concerns of the nonprofit performing arts community.
The League is a member of the American 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.