From the League of American Orchestras:
February 8, 2016
Today brings important policy news for orchestras that engage artists from across the globe to partner with U.S. musicians in concerts, education programs, and the development of new artistic works. Legislation to make the artist visa process more reliable and affordable was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, S. 2510, would improve opportunities for international cultural activity by ensuring that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes artist visas on time.
Orchestras and other nonprofit performing arts organizations must apply for an O or P visawhen engaging international artists for performances. While USCIS pledged in 2010 to process these visas within the timeframe required under current law, applications for artists undergo long delays and extreme inconsistency by USCIS, often forcing nonprofit U.S. arts organizations to pay for unaffordable expedited processing, or risk cancelling scheduled performers. Under the ARTS Act, USCIS would be required to provide expedited processing free-of-charge if a visa petition filed by, or on behalf of, a U.S. nonprofit arts organization is not processed on time.
We are grateful for the continued support and leadership of Sens. Hatch and Leahy, who said the following upon the bill’s introduction:
“All Americans benefit from greater access to the world’s best performers and artists. However, because of unreliable visa processing delays, many of our nonprofit arts organizations risk financial harm if they are unable to present artists as planned,” said Senator Hatch. “This bill is a commonsense effort to simplify that process and I hope that it will move quickly to the President’s desk.”
“Organizations such as the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Performance Lab, and Burlington City Arts enrich our state’s dynamic culture, are integral to our economy, and ensure that all communities benefit from the remarkable power of the arts,” Senator Leahy said. “The ARTS Act acknowledges the unique challenges that nonprofit arts organizations confront with our visa system and would assist them in their effort to bring international arts and culture to our communities.”
The League is a lead partner with the Performing Arts Alliance, American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy, and an array of other national organizations calling on USCIS to take immediate action to improve the artist visa process. You can make a difference by asking your Senator to sign up to co-sponsor the ARTS Act!