Visa Alert: Weigh in With USCIS! - (May 14, 2010)
USCIS Invites Feedback Regarding Artist Visas
In response to concerns expressed by the League and the broader national performing arts community, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has opened a public comment period on one aspect of artist visa process: the amount of time allowable between multiple engagements in a single visa approval period. The League, in partnership with our national performing arts sector colleagues, will submit detailed comments to USCIS. We encourage you to consider submitting comments on behalf of your orchestra to give greater voice to the concerns about the artist visa process. We've drafted sample talking points that may be modified to include details about your orchestra's experience with the visa process. Comments must be received by USCIS by May 24, 2010.
League Calls for Urgently Needed Major Improvements
We know that challenges with the artist visa process abound. That's why the League and our national partners have been in close communication with top officials at the White House, in Congress, and at USCIS to call for immediate improvements.
- The draft policy memo under consideration by USCIS responds to our requests earlier this year, in which we asked USCIS to not limit allowable gaps between performances by a specific number of days, and in which we called for an open public comment process to fully discuss the issue.
- During a Senate Judiciary oversight hearing on Tuesday, May 11, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) urged USCIS Director Mayorkas to take immediate action to improve the artist visa process.
- On May 13, 2010, senior officials from the White House, USCIS, and the Presidents Committee on the Arts and Humanities joined us in a dialogue about artist visa concerns.
Visa Problem? Help Us Help You
If your orchestra receives an unusual request for evidence, or your visa petition is denied, please contact the League as soon as possible. Your specific case examples are essential to improving artist visa policies - and we can also help you navigate a crisis. We need to hear from you as early as possible to be of help.
Unified Advocacy Continues
The League's efforts to improve the visa process for guest artists are conducted in close collaboration with our advocacy partners 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, and under the guidance of immigration attorney and www.artistsfromabroad.org author Jonathan Ginsburg. In addition to representing orchestras before USCIS and the White House, we continue to work with Congress to seek a legislative remedy to improve the reliability and efficiency of visa processing. This issue was also included as an advocacy priority during national Arts Advocacy Day, endorsed by dozens of national arts organizations.
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