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Positive News on US Visas

The visa system brought in by Donald Trump have been rolled back due to pressure from Tamizdat and support from arts organisations across the world, including the MU.

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By Dave Webster Published: 24 June 2021 | 1:59 PM Updated: 24 June 2021 | 2:41 PM
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Musicians will benefit from these changes and they are to be celebrated. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Our colleagues at Tamizdat have informed us that changes to the Visa system brought in by Donald Trump have been rolled back due to pressure from Tamizdat and support from arts organisations including the MU from across the world.

This is what Tamizdat have told us:

Good news! You may recall that in early 2019, the previous administration announced two deeply anti-artist visa rule changes:

  • They cancelled the “traditional expedite,” a service that (occasionally) allowed non-profit organizations to seek expedited processing of O and P visa petitions without having to pay the $2500 “Premium Processing” fee, and
  • They announced that USCIS would no longer be obliged to issue a “Request for Evidence” prior to the denial of a petition, even in situations of good faith clerical errors.

For the last two years, Tamizdat, in collaboration with the League of American Orchestras and other stakeholders in the arts, has worked to roll back these changes. As of Wednesday, we are pleased to announce that we were successful: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced policy changes that, effectively immediately:

  • Enact new traditional expedite criteria that restore the ability of a non-profit organization whose request is “in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States” to request discretionary expedited service, even when premium processing is available, and
  • Ensure that petitioners submitting a visa application are given an opportunity to correct innocent mistakes and unintentional omissions before an application is denied. New guidance emphasizes that USCIS officers reviewing petitions should only issue requests for additional evidence and denials when absolutely necessary.

This is a huge victory for the arts.

It’s vital some of the illogical barriers to entry are broken down

Following the news, we spoke to two funding organisations here in the UK, PRS International Showcase Fund and British Underground.

Joe Frankland, CEO of PRSISF says:

“Congratulations to Tamizdat, the League of American Orchestras and other cultural organisations fighting tirelessly to ensure that the US is more accessible, especially to emerging talent who in our experience have faced increased barriers to mobility and career progression.

“As international showcasing and touring starts to return over the next few months, it’s vital some of the illogical barriers to entry are broken down. This will make it easier for UK based musicians to navigate the process and to tour in such a vital territory.”

Crispin Parry, CEO British Underground says:

“This is fantastic work from Tamizdat and it’s associates. Musicians face so many problems accessing international markets at the moment so any roll-back of visa restrictions to the USA is welcome. British Underground are closely monitoring the situation and anticipate our music showcasing programme to resume in the US as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Dave Webster Live Performance Organiser for the MU also commented on the news:

“Tamizdat has delivered for the Arts again. Musicians will benefit from these changes and they are to be celebrated. We continue to work with Tamizdat to bring about changes to the US visas system for the benefit of musicians and cultural exchange.”

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