LATEST NEWS ALERT: DHS Proposes Fee Schedule: Includes Steep Increases for Artists Visas, Harmful Policy Changes - (01/13/23)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a proposed rule that would impose very steep increases to some of its filing fees, including for O and P artist visas applications filed by U.S. petitioners. The comment period is open until March 6, 2023, after which DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) anticipate taking several months to review public feedback and considers adjustments. The proposed rule would revive and worsen many elements from a 2019 DHS proposal that was ultimately enjoined and prevented from going into effect. This new rule proposes:
- Filing fees for regularly-processed O visa petitions would increase by 260% from $460 to $1,655 per petition (this would include a $600 surcharge to fund the Asylum Program Fee).
- Filing fees for regularly-processed P visa petitions would increase by 251% from $460 to $1,615 per petition (this would include a $600 surcharge to fund the Asylum Program Fee).
- The total number of individuals on a single petition, including O and P arts petitions, would be capped at 25 beneficiaries. This would require numerous petitions for larger ensembles. For example, a visiting ballet company comprising 110 dancers (or orchestra comprising 110 musicians), plus a handful of accompanying support staff would require 6 visa petitions rather than 2.
- The Premium Processing Service (unaffordable to most organizations at a current cost of $2,500) would take longer with USCIS redefining the timeframe from 15 calendar days to 15 business days (federal working days) in order to complete processing.
Joint comments have been filed by national arts stakeholders in response to specific changes outlined in this proposal, pointing out the severe economic harm these proposals would inflict upon a sector that is still recovering from the effects of COVID-19. Members of the public are invited to respond, especially U.S. arts presenters and employers that anticipate a significant impact on engaging international artists as a result of these proposals and have already experienced difficulty. Comments can be filed online through the Federal Register portal, by the newly extended deadline of March 13, 2023.