Urgent Artist Visa Update!

February 19, 2014

Visa-related guest artist cancellations can have a huge reputational and financial impact on nonprofit arts organizations, damage international cultural relations, and deprive audiences of extraordinary performances. If your orchestra engages international artists, please take note of the following urgent information about the U.S. visa process!

The League has received reports of a recent wave of unexpected processing delays, requests for additional evidence, and even denials for O and P artist visas. While the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website continues to list an average timeframe of 14 days for regular processing, the system is actually taking significantly longer for many petitioners. Do not rely on the projected processing times listed on the USCIS website! File your petitions as early as possible, and take these steps:

  1. Consult artistsfromabroad.org for essential tips on preparing a visa petition.
  2. Contact the League for assistance in navigating the visa process. We are here to help members orchestras with their questions and can walk you through the many layers of the petition process.
  3. Complain to us. Really. Please tell us where you are encountering problems with the U.S. visa system. The League is working in collaboration with the broader performing arts community to seek policy changes that improve the artist visa process. If your orchestra encounters a problem after submitting a petition in a timely and complete manner, we would like to bring your story forward as an illustration of the policy improvements needed.

While processing times for artist visas improved significantly following a promise by USCIS in 2010, the timeframe is still highly unpredictable, and the process for determining whether artist visa petitions meet the standard for approval is inconsistent.

Advance planning can mean the difference between the show going on – or getting cancelled. Again, plan to file your petitions as early as possible in order to absorb any unexpected delays in processing or to respond to a USCIS request for additional evidence, and be sure to give your petition a close look for errors or omissions before filing!