The UK music industry has called on Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch to assist in blocking a significant increase in US visa fees, which would significantly impact touring UK musicians and crew.
The move comes after the US Department of Homeland Security proposed raising the fees for certain types of touring visas by at least 251% for non-US citizens.
In a letter to Badenoch, signed by various UK music industry organisations, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin urged the minister to persuade US officials to drop the hike, calling it “deeply damaging”. Music industry leaders have also called on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to join efforts to prevent the rise.
The US is the world’s largest music market and the second largest for touring UK artists after the EU. The planned fee increase would make it unaffordable for many British acts to perform there. The application process for a US visa is already complicated and prohibitively expensive for many UK musicians. A survey by Music Managers Forum and the Featured Artists Coalition revealed that 70% of members believe the proposed increases would prevent them from touring the US.
According to the Musicians Union, 96% of its members believe increased fees will make future tours unfeasible, with 26% saying they will now make a loss on their tours. LIVE, which represents the live music sector, claims that the proposals will threaten 50% of all UK tours in the US.
The proposed changes would increase petition fees for the P visa, which is used for temporary performances, by 251% from $460 (£385) to $1,615 (£1352), and increase the O visa, which is used for longer-term working visits, by 260% from $460 (£385) to $1,655 (£1,375). Additionally, the processing time for applications is being extended from 15 calendar days to 15 working days, with no decrease in costs, for a service that already costs $2,500 (£2,080).
Njoku-Goodwin stated that the proposed visa fee increases would be “catastrophic” for both UK artists and their American audiences and that the plans must be scrapped. He called on ministers to urgently discuss the matter with their US counterparts and work together to prevent a mutually detrimental outcome.