US Visas for performing artists will be processed more quickly.
27 July 2010
US Visa processing to be expedited for performers
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has said it is making an effort to speed up and improve its visa operations after complaints about the processing of applications for foreign performing artists.
Standard applications for O and P visas, the types most often used by performers and athletes, will now be adjudicated within 14 days. Previously, the approval of a US Visa for a foreign artist can take up to 120 days, critics have said.
Managers, lawyers and artist advocates have called the news positive but warn that the US Visa system has become cumbersome and expensive, sometimes resulting in last-minute cancellations for music acts.
Last week, the reunited British ska band The Specials cancelled a September appearance at Central Park SummerStage due to visa issues.
Critics of the visa system say the problems began in min-2001 when the government introduced a premium visa processing service, guaranteeing quick service for a higher fee. As a result, standard visa processing took longer and variations in policy enforcement also introduced an unpredictability that impacted on touring schedules.
While policy changes have not been made, under the new director of the agency, Alejandro Mayorkas, public consultations on visa processing have thawed relations with the industry and Mr Mayorkas insists that the commitment to improve services is genuine.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people make US Visa applications to the American Embassy.