June 24, 2020

This week the President announced an extension through December of his executive order from late April that had, at that time, suspended new immigration for 60 days. Effective immediately, individuals outside the United States who do not currently have an immigrant visa or official travel document other than a visa will be barred entry into the U.S. through December 31, 2020 “and may be continued as necessary” along with the possibility of “any modifications as may be necessary.”

Additionally, restrictions are newly applied to the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa categories, but not to the O and P categories at this time, which are the classifications used for temporary guest artists. However, many arts administration positions are performed under the H-1B and would therefore be impacted. While there are few J-1 exchange programs remaining in the arts, this might still affect universities that can use these programs in conjunction with cultural exchanges, residencies, and the like. The latest executive order does allow for consular discretion to grant exceptions in the cases of a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, an alien who would be providing temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain, and an alien “whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees,” which would include those who are critical to diplomacy. The League’s Artists from Abroad news section will stay up to date as more details or further modifications become available.

In April, the League of American Orchestras co-led a U.S. Performing Arts Sector Request for COVID-Related Flexibility from USCIS and Department of State (PDF) that seeks flexibility for visa issuance in light of the unique and devastating impact of the coronavirus on the arts. The League will continue to make the case to policymakers that support for international artistry is essential to U.S. arts employers, artists, and audiences, and we urge orchestra advocates to do the same.

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