Visa Policy: Engaging Artists from Abroad Amidst COVID-19
August 26, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only forced the cancelation and postponement of countless concerts, it has also caused tremendous uncertainty regarding the participation of international artists in future events. Here’s where things stand today:
- USCIS visa petition processing: While a potential furloughing of USCIS employees has been canceled, the USCIS deputy director for policy has warned that “averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs.” In addition to this prediction of backlogs, petitioners should take note that steep filing fee increases go into effect beginning October 2, 2020, so it would be best to file as soon as possible and to consider coordinating with others to file multiple-venue petitions.
- Consular processing: U.S. embassies and consulates are beginning to resume routine visas services on a post-by-post basis. Conditions vary widely, and there is no timetable for when services will be reinstated at each location, so it’s important to check the website of the individual U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain the information pertaining to that specific location’s operating status, range of services, and estimated wait time. In some cases it is possible to request an emergency appointment, but petitioners should be prepared to enlist Congressional assistance in urgent cases, and to explore whether artists might be able to interview elsewhere.
- Travel restrictions still in place: Several COVID-19 related travel restrictions are still in effect. As of today’s date, travel to the U.S. by most non-U.S. citizens is not permitted if someone has been in any of the following countries within the previous fourteen days prior to attempted entry into the U.S.: Brazil, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the 26 countries that comprise the Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), Iran, and China. Furthermore, COVID-19 related travel restrictions across the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico have been extended through September 21, 2020, barring travel for “non-essential purposes.” In some exceptional cases, there may be a possibility to request a waiver, so interested parties may wish to review this State Department release from July 22 to learn more about the national interest waiver opportunity.
The path to bringing international guest artists to the U.S. is certainly becoming increasingly difficult and expensive, but it is still possible. The League’s website, Artists from Abroad, is updated to reflect the latest developments, and please don’t hesitate to be in touch and let us know what you’re experiencing! Hearing from our members helps us shape the policy requests to improve the overall process.
Related Links & Assets
- DHS Finalizes Steep Artist Visa Fee Increases and Policy Changes – (07/31/20)
- Multiple Venue Petitions
- Phased Resumption of Routine Visa Services
- Travel Restrictions Continue - (04/20/20, Updated 8/10/20)
- Temporary Restriction of Travelers Crossing US-Canada and Mexico Land Borders for Non-Essential Purposes
- State Department Release
- Artists from Abroad