In October, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the fees for O and P visa applications would increase by 42%, from $325 US to $460 per petition, effective December 20. The AFM, along with its long-standing coalition of (US-based) nonprofit arts organizations, spoke out in one strong voice against the increase during the comment period after the USCIS proposed the increase this past spring.
The AFM of course recognizes that this increase adds a significant burden to its Canadian members and to other musicians worldwide. In a November 2 teleconference initiated by USCIS, the AFM urged the USCIS to respond to its current lack of quality in service and to press for vast improvements and consistency in processing times—especially now that it has increased the fee. Unfortunately, the response by USCIS officials was noncommittal, and in general, stated that all increases recently imposed (which were not only on artist/athlete visas) were necessary to maintain overall operations.
To avoid paying the new fee, at least at
the outset, completed P-2 visa applications from AFM Canadian members must be received by the AFM no later than Monday, December 19, 2016 (with the current fee of $325 USD). Applications received on or after December 20 will need to have the new fee ($460 USD) included.
Also, be reminded that the AFM is recommending 120 calendar days (four months) processing time (unless filing premium processing, requiring 30 calendar days). While these processing time recommendations are fairly accurate, this timeline is an estimate, subject to increase or decrease by USCIS. The USCIS is not required to provide advance notice of changes to processing times. AFM’s P-2 administrative team monitors USCIS processing times weekly, in an effort to provide as solid a timeline as possible to membership.
At the very least, the AFM coalition had hoped to receive news that processing times would vastly improve, as had happened immediately after the last USCIS increase in the summer of 2010. While it may be hard to believe, especially considering the processing times and fees for Canadians, the USCIS artist visa process is more simplified and less costly than it is for all other musicians across the globe who enter the US under the same permits.
“The AFM does everything possible to make the process easier on members and will work with each case to try and maximize the cost and permit length so members can get the most out of their time and money,” says CFM Executive Director Liana White.
For additional information and questions on the AFM’s lobbying initiatives to improve access to the US, or the AFM’s role as a petitioner of artist permits, please email Liana White (firstname.lastname@example.org).