Breaking: US to hit musicians with $715 visa charge

Breaking: US to hit musicians with $715 visa charge


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2019

The League of American Orchestras has put out a warning that the Trump administration plans to increase normal visa requests for guest artists and orchestras from $460 per person to as much as $715 per petition.

This would kill orchestra touring stone dead and deter many soloists.

Read the grim outlook here.


  • John Bonboni says:

    “This would kill orchestra touring stone dead and deter many soloists.“
    No, it won’t.

  • V. Lind says:

    The Department of Homeland Security is systematically trying to take democracy apart, brick by brick.

    • Karl says:

      How is that a threat to democracy exactly?

    • Anon says:

      Eh? In what way is this a threat of any kind to democracy? At what fee level is that supposed threat negated in your opinion?

      • V. Lind says:

        I just wonder what Homeland Security is doing messing in what is essentially a simple consular issue. Presumably it’s just another way for Trump to grab money to pay for the ever-extending reach of the Department of American Paranoia.

        • Tamino says:

          The money is irrelevant either way.
          It’s all political, possibly also a giving in to national unions.
          The US is back on track to its pre-20th century isolationist policies, unfortunately now also mixed with a delusional exceptionalistic approach.
          I and most people I know have changed their behaviour from liking to visit the US to trying to avoid it if possible.

  • Ben says:

    For a touring orchestra it would be $715 per application, which is capped at 25 individuals per application. Hardly a death knell as it’s $715 for up to 25 individuals as opposed to $715 for each individual. Sure, it’s expensive to file multiple applications but not prohibitive.

    • anon says:

      No, the full orchestra of musicians applied under one petition (O-1) and their support staff applied under a second, attached P-1 visa. Because processing times are so unpredictable, most major orchestra tours filed under premium processing as well so the decision would be issued within fifteen calendar days. If these changes go through, an orchestra with ninety musicians and a dozen tour staff’s visa fees would go from currently $3,800 for two petitions on premium processing to as much as $10,765 for five petitions- nearly triple the cost. Add in the fact that often someone is hired to prepare these petitions, who would likely increase their costs to now produce the additional petitions, and there are also the fees for AFM, IATSE, and sometimes AGMA to issue their advisory opinions in support of the petitions. Finally, every member of the tour party has an additional fee to get the visa stamp put in their passport when they go to their visa interview at a US consulate.

      International orchestra tours operate on very thin margins and are never revenue positive for the orchestra these days. This kind of increase truly could be a barrier to US touring for smaller budget orchestras.

      Sincerely, a person who has prepared many visa petitions for orchestras and individual artists

      • Anon says:

        So would this not, then, encourage more efficient applications from orchestras, and act as an incentive for both promoters and orchestras to set their game out further in advance?

  • anon says:

    Not to worry, Boris will negotiate the best deal in the history of the world with Donald for British musicians who will have it so good they’ll never have to play on continental Europe for the rest of their lives, and possibly longer.

  • anon says:

    Since most US orchestra performances are under subscribed, I have trouble believing that fewer foreign orchestra tours will have any impact on the handful of US concert goers.

  • Karl says:

    An extra $250 won’t deter major soloists who make a lot of money. For a big orchestra that could add thousands to the cost, but those are expensive already so it would probably be less than a 1% increase. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s tour of Asia cost more than $3 million.

    • Bill says:

      Hard to imagine it will even deter a soloist that isn’t making a lot of money. A maximum increase of $255 on someone who is probably playing multiple concerts (need a new agent if not!)…if that is all it takes to ruin the finances, the trip is a loser at the old price, too.

      • Sergey says:

        You’ll be surprised to learn how many non-US musicians have no agents whatsoever. Planning a concert in the US is a hard work for them so a profit drop of several hundred dollar may become decisive in many cases.

        • Mr. Knowitall says:

          Indeed. Chamber ensembles, including musicians with whom I work, have been hit hard by the increasingly unpredictability of the US visa process.

        • Dave T says:

          “a profit drop of several hundred dollar may become decisive”

          Touring musicians embark with such a thin margin? An overspend of $255 is just a couple of misguided taxi rides and overpriced meals. Hard to believe that this small sum could be the difference between a successful US tour and a loser.

  • Monsoon says:

    The fee increase is per **petition**, not per person.

    So no, an orchestra with 100 musicians will not have to pay $71,500.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    One more reason not to visit “the land of the free”. I will only go when I am called on tour with my orchestra and I cannot swap the tour with a colleague.

    • Larry W says:

      Oh, the irony! Never forget, dear Frau.

      • Tamino says:

        The times, they are changing. Aggressor and state terrorist number one in the world today: USA. Oh the irony indeed.

        • "We all like sheep..." says:

          This is a classical music blog comment section. You might consider the relevance of your post to that topic before you post.

          • Tamino says:

            Tell that to the „Never forget, dear Frau“ commenter before me, dear sheep lover.

          • Larry W says:

            My comment was in reply to FrauGeigerin, and in that context was fair. So you may know, “never forget” refers to the victims of the Holocaust. In that case, the USA was the savior, not the aggressor. Not that you care.
            Your comment was not appropriate.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            “The US was the saviour”

            I really wish people would not re-write history. During the war the western allies made very little about the plight of the Jews, and fought the war for other reasons. The US army even had to sack one of its generals for being anti-semitic.

    • Bill says:

      It’ll be difficult, as you are undoubtedly the star of your string section, but somehow we’ll muddle through without you. As you won’t be busy touring, keep us posted on the fees we would pay to visit and perform in your country, please.

    • Dave T says:

      I just don’t see how musical life in America would be able to survive without your gracing us with your presence. On behalf of the nation, I beg you, dear Madame Frau, to reconsider.

  • MacroV says:

    For an orchestra it’s basically another $10/musician, which isn’t going to make or break a tour. A much bigger concern is probably processing time and dealing with hassles when going through immigration.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      For major orchestras you are right. For small groups (such as a string quartet) doing two-or-three concerts it will start to be a problem.

  • Eric Hunt says:

    Yawn. More “Orange-man bad” news.

  • Sammy says:

    The concept of this is what’s so troubling. It’s not about 250$ more or less
    Trump taxes everything while cutting taxes for the billionaires. And if it’s something that is “foreign” goods like orchestras, wines etc all the better. Trump will do better to help American orchestras and music venues. Support artists and give oxygen to this essential part of America. Disgusting human being who is destroying every single aspect of life in the US and around the world.

  • K says:

    Leave it to that f****ing reprobate Trump to implement a policy like this. Bet a hundred bucks artists from Russia will be excluded.