The United States government is making headlines once again as it reveals its plan to increase visa fees for foreign musicians by more than 250 percent.
At present, the fee for a P visa, which is required for short-term stays, or an O visa, required for longer-term work, is US$460 (J$70,920). However, if the proposal from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is passed, fees will skyrocket to US$1,615 (J$248,994) for short-term performance visits and US$1,655 (JM$254,669) for long-term visits.
On top of the proposed fee hike, a US$600 surcharge will be implemented to support the US government’s asylum program, and visa applications will be restricted to a maximum of 25 individuals. Any group that exceeds this limit will need to file a separate application.
The DHS has stated that the proposed increase in fees is due to high demand and inadequate staff at the Citizenship and Immigration department, leading to longer processing times. Due to these staffing constraints, the premium processing time will be extended from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
The proposed fee increase has sparked a wave of protest from foreign musicians, with many signing petitions urging the US government to reconsider its plans. Until March 6, music fans and industry workers can voice their opposition to the proposed changes by submitting their comments on the Federal Register website.
The US government last raised artiste visa fees in 2016; a 2020 proposal to raise fees by 50 percent was unsuccessful. This current proposal has attracted international attention, and many are hoping for a different outcome.