Musicians in the United States and abroad have spent the last several weeks rallying fans against proposed increases in visa costs, and now, they’re pushing for a final surge of support. Visa costs for international artists could nearly triple under a new policy, creating a potentially prohibitive barrier to working musicians. Today (March 13) is the last day for public commentary on the matter, ending at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Find more information here.
The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed the visa changes in January, arguing that the new rates were necessary due to increased costs at the agency. Under the new guidelines, O-1 visas for “individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement” would increase from $460 to $1,655. The P-2 visas for individual or group performers would make a similar jump, from $460 to $1,615.
The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers led a letter-writing campaign of its own in response to the proposed increase, aiming for 1,600 letters speaking out against the new policy. Artists like The Weather Station, Ducks Ltd., and Primal Scream’s Simone Marie Butler have all spoken out against the higher fees. In the United Kingdom, Let the Music Move has encouraged British musicians—who have been mired in deeper European visa complications as a result of Brexit—to take action, too.