U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Action Alert Archive

Archived Action Alerts:

4/17/12: Improve Visa Processing for Foreign Guest Artists
Delays and inconsistencies by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have made it difficult in the past for international artists to obtain the visas required for entry into the United States. Delays began when USCIS adopted a Premium Processing Service (PPS) in June 2001, guaranteeing processing within 15 calendar days at an unaffordable cost for most nonprofit arts organizations - $1,225 per petition. Prior to the creation of PPS, regular O and P visa processing took an average of 45 days, but since then processing has varied widely, ranging from 45 days to six months.

7/22/10 Visa Processing Improvements Promised by USCIS
In a meeting on July 20th U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) promised public stakeholders that processing times for regularly-filed artist visa petitions will no longer exceed 14 days and that significant improvements to the quality of artist visa processing will soon be underway. The agency is making a major effort to revise its policy and training programs for its two US service centers in response to requests from the nonprofit performing arts community and following significant intervention by leaders in the House, Senate, and the White House Domestic Policy Council. Following years of advocacy on this issue, the Performing Arts Alliance is extremely pleased with this week's breakthrough.
ACTION:TCG in partnership with the Performing Arts Alliance and the Performing Arts Visa Working Group will continue to seek the promised improvements, and your examples of visa challenges are essential as we continue to communicate with USCIS headquarters. Please report theatre related visa problems to Laurie Baskin, director of research, policy & collective action at TCG.

7/19/10: File Comments on Fee Increase Proposal from USCIS
Performing arts organizations experiencing difficulty obtaining artist visas have a new opportunity to weigh in with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as the agency proposes an across-the-board fee increase.  USCIS proposes a $5 increase in the fee for the regular I-129 visa processing form (which would bring the fee to $325), and a $225 increase in the Premium Processing fee (bringing the total fee to $1,225). 
ACTION: Your theatre can urge USCIS to make immediate, long-overdue improvements to the regular artist visa process and to refrain from increasing the already-unaffordable Premium Processing fee. Comments to USCIS are due by July 26.

5/14/1o: Weigh In With USCIS
In response to concerns expressed by the Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) and the broader national performing arts community, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has opened a public comment period on one aspect of the artist visa process:  the amount of time allowable between multiple engagements in a single visa approval period.  The PAA, in partnership with our national performing arts sector colleagues, will submit detailed comments to USCIS.  We encourage you to consider submitting comments on behalf of your performing arts organization to give greater voice to the concerns about the artist visa process. 
ACTION: Please read through our simple talking points that may be modified to include details about your organization's experience with the visa process; then file comments with USCIS by Monday, May 24, 2010.

3/14/10: Urge Congress to Enact the Arts Require Timely Service Act
Urge your Representatives and Senators to enact the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act (H.R. 1785 and S.1409), which will require USCIS to reduce the total processing times for O and P petitions filed by, or on behalf of, nonprofit arts-related organizations to a maximum of 45 days. The measure passed the full House on April 1, 2008, and was re-introduced in 2009 in the Senate. The legislation has broad bipartisan support, and has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as having no cost to the federal government.
ACTION: Ask your Representative and Senators to support legislation that will improve the visa process for foreign guest artists.

6/10/08: Improve Visa Processing for Foreign Guest Artists
American nonprofit performing arts organizations provide an important public service by presenting foreign guest artists in performances, educational events and cultural programs in communities across the country. Delays by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are making it increasingly difficult for international artists to appear in the United States. Nonprofit performing arts organizations confront long waits and uncertainty in gaining approval for visa petitions for foreign guest artists.
ACTION: Ask your Representative and Senators to support legislation that will improve the visa process for foreign guest artists.

6/10/08: Increase Funding for International Cultural Exchange
The State Department’s Cultural Programs Division is the principal office focused on cultural diplomacy. An increased appropriation would expand the State Department’s ability to foster mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad.
ACTION: Ask your Representative and Senators to support increased funding for cultural exchange programs at the U.S. Department of State.

4/1/08: House Approves Artist Visa Act!
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to improve the artist visa process. The legislation would require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to treat as a Premium Processing case, free of any additional charge, any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to process within 30 days. The “Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act” (HR 1312) is sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and 10 other bipartisan leaders, and would improve the reliability, efficiency and affordability of the artist visa process.  The next step is for the legislation to be approved by the U.S. Senate.
ACTION: Keep your eyes open for a possibly request in the near future to show support through sending letters.  Click here to see the Performing Arts Alliance webpage.

2/15/07: USCIS Proposes an Increase in Visa Processing Fees
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a proposed increase in visa processing fees for O and P visas. This proposed rule would increase the Form I-129 filing fee (from $190 to $320) and the Form I-824 filing fee (from $200 to $340). These new fees would increase the financial burden U.S. nonprofit performing arts petitioners already suffer when booking foreign guest artists.
ACTION: Please write to the Director of Regulatory Management Division USCIS to express your opposition to this proposal!

5/26/06: Approval of Provision to Require Timely Processing for Artists
The U.S. Senate approved a provision to require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to speed up visa processing for artists as part of the comprehensive immigration bill. The amendment would reduce the current processing times for O and P arts-related visa petitions to a maximum of 45 days by requiring USCIS to treat any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to adjudicate within 30 days as a Premium Processing case, free of additional charge.
ACTION: Please take a moment to thank your leaders for their work in support of the performing arts.

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