US refuses visa to Chinese orchestra

US refuses visa to Chinese orchestra


norman lebrecht

January 30, 2017

The Beijing Chinese Orchestra has cancelled a February concert in Seattle after 22 of its musicians were refused visas.

An official told a Seattle congressman that the musicians’ “stated purpose of travel” didn’t match the class of visas they’d applied for.’

Sign of the times.


  • Peter says:

    Wow, it’s a “sign of the times” that you are supposed to apply for the right visa? I think it’s been fairly standard around the world for many years that you are supposed to tick the right box…

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Here is the list of possibilities. Usually the US Embassy or Consulate will advise concerning the proper category. I’m only guessing and certainly not an expert, but I would have selected the category P-3.

    I can completely understand how they might have checked the wrong box. This process can take weeks, if not months.

  • Nik says:

    Ah, a “sign of the times”.

    Do you have any evidence that they would have got away with applying for the wrong visa when “times” were different?

  • FartNoises says:

    “the 22 members of the Beijing Chinese Orchestra may reapply at any time.”

    sounds terrible

  • Ian says:

    since we are entertaining ignorant speculation it is also possible that they actually did “tick the right box” and that the person who processed the application didn’t really cotton to the idea of Chinese musicians coming to the US.
    Furthermore, this functionary, rightly knowing that he (or she) is not subject to oversight of any kind, and that agents of the USCIS and other federal agencies are now free to openly express their personal biases if they so happen to mirror those of the absurd and deranged POTUS, decided to make an example of them, just because he (she) could.
    Then again, perhaps they just ticked the wrong box, eh?

    • MacroV says:

      As a former US consular officer, let me enlighten: Professional performers going to the United States to perform need a “P” visa (not sure 1, 2, or 3). To get that, somebody (probably the agent or the tour sponsor) has to submit a petition to the Department of Homeland Security for every orchestra member. DHS adjudicates the petition and issues an approval form (used to be an I-797; not sure if it’s something else now). The applicant brings that to the nearest US embassy for an interview with a consular officer, who works for the State Department. That officer reviews the petition, and if s/he doesn’t find any ineligibility (say a criminal record, previous overstays in the US, etc.), and that the visa type is the right one for the intended travel, the officer has virtually no discretion, but must issue the visa. So I would say the greatest likelihood is that the orchestra members somehow were petitioned for the wrong visa; it’s probably the fault of whoever submitted the petitions to DHS.

      I dislike Trump as much as anyone, but I am certain this nothing to do with his new administration.

  • Stephen Owades says:

    It certainly seems unfortunate, but hardly a “sign of the times.” Visa issues for performing musicians have been common for many years through many US administrations—and for US musicians performing abroad as well—and this group’s application must have been in the works long before Trump was elected. Remember that the Swingle Singers were unable to come to the US due to a visa problem last year (reported on here at SlippeDisc). Groups planning international tours are well advised to work with experts in the field to make sure all their i’s are dotted and t’s crossed.