USCIS Announces New Appointed Petitioner Rules! - (October 14, 2009)
Important Update! New USCIS Rules for Shared Visa Petitions
Washington, D.C. - Multiple orchestras engaging the same foreign guest artist to perform in the U.S. frequently work together to submit a single visa petition that will cover all engagements. Overturning nearly 20 years of this practice, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced new policies revoking the ability of a U.S.-based employer to file a single petition for artists coming to the U.S. for an itinerary of events with multiple arts organizations - unless the petitioner is in business as an agent.
If an artist plans to travel to the U.S. for multiple engagements, and the petitioning U.S. organization IS NOT in business as an agent, each U.S. employer must file a separate visa petition. If timing permits, consider encouraging the guest artist to await the approval of all petitions - or at least those petitions encompassing the beginning and end of the requested classification period - before visiting a U.S. consulate to process the visa. By presenting all approval notices at once (or at least the beginning and ending ones), the artist may avoid the need for multiple consular visits, interviews, and accompanying fees.
If an artist plans to travel to the U.S. for multiple engagements, and the petitioning U.S. organization IS in business as an agent, the petition must be carefully assembled to satisfy new USCIS requirements. While it is not clear what documentation is needed to prove that the petitioner is "in business as an agent," we suggest that the agent include a signed Appointment of Agent Form.
USCIS warns that multiple-employer petitions filed by any petitioner not in business as an agent will be approved only for the period of time covering the petitioner's direct employment of the artist. Follow the new guidance we've posted on www.artistsfromabroad.org to prevent petition rejections or time-consuming re-filing for engagements not included in a petition approval.
Learn More About Who Can Serve as a Petitioner
Support League Efforts to Reverse this Policy
The League is working with partners in the national performing arts community to reverse this detrimental, costly, and unjustified policy shift by USCIS. We ask that you please contact the League's Washington, D.C. office and keep us informed of the impact of this policy on your orchestra, whether it results in increasing costs, changes in scheduling, or any other kind of difficulty you may encounter.
Inform the League About Your Visa Experience
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.