On July 20, senior officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) promised public stakeholders that average processing times for regularly filed artist visa petitions will not exceed 14 days. This marks a substantial reduction in processing times: approvals previously have varied and taken up to 120 days. Orchestras and other arts organizations have been fighting an uphill battle against immigration policies that have seriously challenged their ability to obtain visas for foreign guest performers. The League of American Orchestras, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians, members of the Performing Arts Alliance, and NAPAMA, has made this issue a priority advocacy area and has been a leader in the national efforts to improve the U.S. artist visa process through direct advocacy by orchestras and with strategic efforts with policy leaders in D.C. The USCIS also promised that significant improvements to the quality of artist visa processing will soon be underway as the agency undergoes a major effort to revise its policy and training programs for the two service centers that process the O and P visas used by artists traveling to the United States for performances. In the wake of promised improvements by USCIS, it is more important than ever that artist visa petitioners do their part to submit complete and timely visa petitions. Visit the Artists from Abroad website for guidance and contact League government affairs for assistance. The promise of 14-day processing is encouraging, but not a guarantee, so file early and compile your best possible petition. The Artists from Abroad website will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect any new policy developments. For more complete information from the League on this topic, click here.

Posted July 22, 2010