Be Aware of Delays and Extra Security Measures! (12/11/15)
Arts organizations that engage foreign guest artists should be aware of substantial processing delays at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers. Both service centers are reportedly taking a minimum of 8-10 weeks to process petitions, with Vermont taking even longer. Many organizations are opting to file via Premium Processing Service (PPS), so be advised that if you have engagements for foreign guest artists taking place before the spring, your safest bet may be to upgrade your petitions to PPS.
Although non-resident aliens are generally not required to travel with a copy of their petition approval notices (the form I-797, which is issued to the U.S. petitioner), the safest practice is to make sure your guest artists have a copy of the underlying USCIS petition as well as a copy of the I-797 approval notice when they enter the U.S. Also, while most petitioners are already aware that the Visa Waiver Program can be used by artists under only very narrow circumstances, everyone should be advised that to attempt to enter on the VWP with the intention of performing can result in severe and lasting consequences.
Please be extra careful to complete your petitions accurately, and stay tuned in to artistsfromabroad.org for up-to-date guidance and helpful templates!