P1 Visas – USCIS not a big fan of music

Visa issues have seemingly become the No. 1 reason for overseas artists to stop their tours lately. The Wall Street Journal took a look at the increasingly difficult process they have to go through to get their paperwork in order. This fall, Immigration restrictions are stopping some popular United Kingdom acts from reaching U.S. borders. At least three anticipated tours by British artists scheduled for this month alone have been called off or pushed back because of musicians’ visa problems.

It seems that processing artist visas like the P’s and the O’s is becoming more and more difficult in the age of the internet. I see this in my practice representing young artists coming to perform in America. YouTube and myspace evidence is what I use, but it is not always easy to convince the USCIS adjudicators not familiar with these popular mediums.

Here is an example, Last fall, the British band Klaxons landed a spot at the CMJ music festival in New York, an annual showcase of new talent. But its visa request was delayed when immigration officials said they needed more evidence of the band’s longevity. About a week before its scheduled trip to the U.S., the band pulled the plug on the tour. The group waited another seven months to enter the U.S. Can you blame them!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, says that the Internet has changed the kind of evidence that bands present — posts from blogs and online magazines now appear in application packages. But the agency says it will only consider these sources if the band can prove that they are well-read and influential. The burden of proof falls on the band and the immigration lawyers putting the case together.

I tend to spend hours on google video, you tube and other online sites that can help me show how popular my client is. One of my client’s youtube music video was viewed 1.5 million times, is that good evidence for you adjudicators, I think so.

One of the Bloggers on this issue recently said:

.What I don’t understand, though, is why ticket receipts for already-on-sale shows shouldn’t count as some sort of proof of demand for these artists; not only is it a more accurate indicator of these bands’ Stateside esteem than a blurb in Rolling Stone, it would result in a lot of clubs and promoters losing money on last-minute cancellations and fans being less frustrated.

I agree with you, and I will keep including original evidence for my artist clients, myspace postings, blog ratings, etc until the adjudicators will finally get it and realize that the standard for artist visas is changing, just like the internet had changes the applicants coming to work in the US.