Working In The USA: What The Future May Hold With Biden
Applying for US visitor and work visas in recent years has not been a simple process for international artists. In the pre-covid world, most cited lots of complicated documentation and high fees as the main difficulties, and the numerous issues of organising work in the USA from the UK has been one thing many won’t have missed during the pandemic. As we look ahead to 2021 on the brink of the Biden Administration taking the reins, Tamizdat in New York spoke to the Musicians’ Union in the UK about what the future might look like. Tamizdat are a nonprofit organisation for international cultural mobility and exchange.
The Trump travel ban
While Tamizdat were clear that they were making educated guesses when talking with the MU, they did feel it was very likely that the ‘Trump travel ban’ would be abolished under the Biden Administration. There’s still a lot of speculation of the ‘public charge’ rules which came into place early in 2020 – these rules enabled the government to enforce easier denial of visas and green cards to people they felt might become reliant on public benefits and assistance programmes. Thankfully, an injunction was implemented in July due to Covid-19 being taken into consideration with regards to accessing public healthcare. Going forward, it remains uncertain whether the public charge rules will come back into place or not.
Travel restrictions due to coronavirus
It’s predicted that any restrictions that may be put into place under the Biden Administration will be due to public health and safety reasons rather than any other agendas or ideologies. Tamizdat hopes that the US Department of State will recover from the last four years and that artists will be able to benefit from working internationally in the US once more.
While the predictions for legislation on travelling to the US look as though there is potential for better days ahead, it’s a different story looking at the visa fees. It’s very unfortunate that in the last year the fees for ‘fast-track’ or premium processing service (PPS) have not only increased incrementally, but they have recently skyrocketed from $1,440 to $2,500 which does not include the base filing fee of an additional $2,500 that must accompany all O or P visa applications. It may be beneficial to fully investigate any options available for sponsorship or funding that are specialist to each industry or employer when facing such a financial hit.
Finding news and advice
Of course, there are still so many unknown and moveable factors to the current and short-term situation, and it’s impossible to foresee exactly what 2021 may mean for those who are hoping to perform or work in the USA.
For the most accurate and up to date news and advice, it’s worth keeping an eye on experts such as:
Artists From Abroad, who are an online resource for information about the US artist visa process.
Tamizdat, who are a Brooklyn-based non-profit that offers pro bono legal advice about artists visa issues.
Viva La Visa, a UK-based visa expediting company that offer free consultations.
Benmar, a London-based visa expediting service that offer paid guidance.
CoveyLaw, who are a Brooklyn-based law firm who have a grand program for independent artists that can substantially reduce their fees.