In Wednesday’s (3/17) New York Times, Ben Sisario writes about Manhattan-based Tamizdat, “a nonprofit group with an official mission of promoting international cultural exchange, and a docket each year of hundreds of visa applications that need I’s precisely dotted and T’s precisely crossed. Its clients include classical, ethnic and pop musicians from around the world.” As Executive Director Michael Tovey “sees it, there are few obstacles that cannot be overcome with solid organization and some planning. … The problems cut across all genres. Recently the Cleveland Orchestra’s application for Martin Mitterrutzner, an acclaimed young Austrian tenor, was denied for reasons that left the orchestra perplexed. … After two denials, the orchestra retained a lawyer and got the decision reversed in the nick of time—but only after considerable expense.” The article notes that “The documentation for a performer’s visa application can be extensive. Depending on the type of visa sought, an applicant may have to demonstrate evidence of ‘renown,’ in the form of press clippings and awards, which officials have wide altitude to interpret. The laws covering visas have not changed much in decades, immigration lawyers and others say, but since 2001 enforcement has tightened in sometimes puzzling and disruptive ways.”

Posted March 17, 2010