DHS Proposes Steep Artist Visa Fee Increases and Policy Changes – (12/12/19)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed making it much more costly to apply to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for the required visas for international guest artists, and is inviting the public to comment on its plans to increase most of its filing fees, including those for O and P artist visas applications filed by U.S. nonprofit arts organizations.
No date has been announced for when the following proposed changes would be implemented:

  • Filing fees for regularly-processed O visa petitions would increase from $460 to as much as $715 per petition.
  • Filing fees for regularly-processed P visa petitions would increase from $460 to as much as $705 per petition.
  • The total number of individuals on a single petition would be capped at 25, multiplying the increased cost by requiring numerous petitions for larger ensembles. For example, a visiting ballet company comprising 110 dancers (or orchestra comprising 110 musicians), plus a handful of accompanying support staff would require 6 visa petitions rather than 2.
  • The Premium Processing Service (unaffordable to most organizations at an additional cost of $1,440) would take longer if USCIS were to be allowed 15 federal working days to complete processing, compared to the current 15 calendar day timeline.

Detailed comments are being prepared by national nonprofit arts stakeholders in response to specific changes outlined in this proposal and also drawing attention to severe processing delays that have persisted since earlier this summer.

Members of the public are invited to weigh, especially U.S. arts presenters and employers that have been experiencing problems and anticipate a significant impact on engaging international artists as a result of these proposals. Comments can be filed online through the Federal Register portal, by the deadline of December 30, 2019.