Artist Visa Act Passes in the House; (04/01/08)
House Approves Artist Visa Act!
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to improve the artist visa process! The "Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act", H.R. 1312, is sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and 12 other bipartisan leaders, and would improve the reliability, efficiency, and affordability of the artist visa process.
Since 2001, orchestras, the League, and our arts colleagues have urged Congress and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove barriers to international cultural events by improving the burdensome and unpredictable artist visa process.
Congratulations! Your advocacy has advanced this issue through the House!
ARTS Act to Speed Visa Process
The Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act has strong bipartisan support in Congress and would improve the reliability of the visa process by reducing total processing times for O and P nonprofit arts-related visa petitions to a maximum of 45 days.
How would it work? Currently, USCIS provides Premium Processing within 15 calendar days for petitioners able to pay an extra $1,000 fee - which is unaffordable to most arts organizations. Under the ARTS Act, USCIS would be required to treat as a Premium Processing case, free of additional charge, any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to process within 30 days.
During today's debate on the House floor, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Dan Lungren (R-CA) spoke in support of the ARTS Act. Only one member of Congress, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), spoke in opposition to the bill. The vote was taken under a process called "suspension of the rules," which resulted in a successful voice vote, so no recorded vote was taken.
Find Complete ARTS ACT Background
Next Step: Senate Action
Before the ARTS Act can be signed into law, it must next be approved in the Senate. The House bill will soon move to the Senate for consideration, where the groundwork for support has already been set by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who introduced a similar provision, S. 2178. The League will continue working closely with the Senate to advance this measure and bolster support as the bill heads toward a vote.
While we await final approval of the ARTS Act, please contact the League for assistance with the artist visa process. The League can provide technical assistance to help in the preparation of visa applications, and information about your experiences with the visa process helps to inform our advocacy work in Washington.
Tips for Navigating the Current Visa Process
Coalition Efforts Continue
Coordinated advocacy efforts have been essential to advancing the ARTS Act, which is supported by the broad arts community and was one of 11 policy issues addressed during today's national Arts Advocacy Day events.
Efforts are led by the Performing Arts Visa Task Force, which includes the American Arts Alliance, American Federation of Musicians, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance/USA, League of American Orchestras, North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents, OPERA America, and Theatre Communications Group.
The League will keep you posted as the ARTS Act moves ahead.
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.