Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are sorry to have to let you know that as of December 23, 2016, the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) has decided to increase the fees for all O and P visa petitions by 42% from US $325 to US $460. The Canadian Federation of Musicians office is advising that December 15, 2016 will be the last day to submit a P2 application to them under the current fee, due to the time it takes them to prepare each petition before sending to the USCIS.
We know this is bad news for our members, who make their living from touring, and we did our best to convince the USCIS that it was not a good idea. When the increases were proposed earlier this year, we sent information to all our U.S. members asking them to take the time to visit the USCIS website and submit public comments against the proposed increase. Local 1000 also submitted its own comment, signed by our President Tret Fure. It appears our efforts, and those of the AFM as a whole, were not enough to stop the increase from going through.
Please know that as your union, we are committed to continuing to work in whatever way we can to help change the P2 situation for the better. It is an unfair and unbalanced process that interferes with the work that we all do as musicians, and it is not good for our corner of the music industry. We are talking within Local 1000 about what kinds of things we can be doing to raise our voice and try to effect change. We are but a small part of the music industry and the music industry is a small part of the cultural industry as a whole. But it is important that we keep speaking about this and keep finding ways to help move the issue forward.
We welcome your thoughts and ideas, and we will be letting you know about future opportunities to get involved and work with your fellow union members on this issue.
Local 1000 Vice President from Canada
USCIS INCREASES ARTIST PERMIT FEE:
December 15, 2016 last day to Submit P2 Applications under the Current Fee
As reported in late spring, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed an increase to the O and P petition fees. AFM, along with is long-standing coalition of (US-based) non-profit arts organizations, aggressively lobbied against the implementation of any increase. Despite those concerted efforts, late last week USCIS announced a substantial (42%) increase on O’s and P’s, from $325USD to $460USD.
The AFM of course recognizes that this increase adds a significant burden to its Canadian members, musicians world-wide and to petitioners of artist permits such as the AFM.
On November 2nd USCIS is holding a teleconference of its recognized Stakeholders in the US non-profit arts sector. The position and arguments of the AFM and others will be to urge USCIS to respond to its current lack of quality in service, and to press for vast improvements and consistency in processing times – especially now that USCIS has increased the fee.
To avoid paying the new fee at this time, please submit completed P2 applications to the AFM’s Canadian Office (CFM) ensuring receipt by that office no later than Monday, December 19, 2016. Applications received on or after December 20, 2016 will need to have the new fee ($460) included.
Also, please be reminded that at this time we are recommending 120 days/4 months processing time (unless filing premium processing). The above timeline is an estimate, which is subject to be increased or decreased by USCIS, with no requirement on USCIS to provide petitioners advance notice of changes to processing times. AFM’s P2 Administrative Team monitors USCIS processing progress weekly, in an effort to provide as solid a time line as possible.
While it may be hard to believe, especially considering the processing time and fees, but, for Canadians the USCIS artist visa process is much more simplified and less costly than it is for all other musicians across the globe, who enter the United States under the same permits.
For additional information and questions on the AFM’s lobbying initiatives to improve access to the U.S., or the AFM’s role as a petitioner of artist permits, please email Liana White, Executive Director AFM/CFM, [email protected]