ADVOCACY CALL: U.S. Proposes Massive Visa Increases

by SaskMusic

February 8, 2023 in Industry News

Compiled from messaging from the Canadian Federation of Musicians (musicians' union)

Article: Touring the US Might Get Much More Expensive for International Musicians (Exclaim)


For most musical work in the United States, Canadian artists/musicians require a Class P2 Work Permit, or other non-immigrant permit. Meanwhile an O1 class permit can be accessed by artists/bands performing at a more elite/established level. As you need an export partner to obtain a visa, typically independent artists obtain their visas through the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM)/American Federation of Musicians (AFM).

USCIS recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to adjust certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees.

  • For regular processing time, it is recommended to apply at least 90 days before the first gig. The USCIS application fee is currently $460 USD. The admin fee charged by CFM to process a visa application is $120 CDN for the first person and $25 per additional musician/technician to be included under the visa. You must be a union member to apply for a visa through the CFM.
    The proposal would increase the cost of a regular P2 application from $460 USD to $1615 USD, and an O application from $460 USD to $1655 USD.
  • For late processing, it is recommended to apply at least 25 days before the first gig. The USCIS Premium Processing fee is $2500 USD plus the above fees. The premium processing fee would not increase.

The CFM has been actively lobbying against these increases alongside U.S. arts organizations & attorneys, and U.S. AFM locals. 


Please reach out to your US colleagues/industry contact lists. We need U.S. voices – artists, festivals, venues, buyers, etc. to provide commentary on this U.S. matter before March 6.

Below are some points that would be good for U.S. artists/entities to include in their communications directly through the US Federal Register Portal:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements

  • Specific examples of how your business/artistic creation relies upon international touring, and the devastating impact these new fees will have on your business if international touring comes to a halt. Note, all comments submitted through the portal will be viewable by the public.
  • Specific examples of the enduring financial and programmatic impacts of COVID-19 on yourself, organization, or business.
  • Music is collaborative in nature, providing U.S. artists with the ability to connect with international artists, who in turn provide those U.S. artists with access to markets abroad.
  • International touring artists contribute to the U.S. economy in the way of filling venues, booking hotels, and the other many costs associated with a tour. 
  • The increases proposed are upwards of 251%, cost of living has not increased to that level.
  • Drastic fee increases will stifle international cultural activity, put U.S.-based jobs at risk, and have a negative economic ripple effect on communities supported by arts events.

In addition to providing comments through the Federal Register link above, U.S. citizens are encouraged to forward a copy of your comments, call, and write the offices of their Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as engage your audiences, speak up and out, create performance art advocacy, and whatever else it takes for this situation to be taken seriously.  

Anyone needing assistance in drafting a comment may contact Liana White, CFM, below.

Efforts over this past week include:

  • Lobby group met with the Small Business Administration Office. Union can connect small & non-profit U.S. businesses with a contact there - Contact Liana if interested. 
  • Meeting with a US State Senator and Consul of the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago
  • Garnered support of U.S. artists and festivals
  • Started a petition

"Please be assured that we are steadfastly continuing our advocacy against these steep increases.  The more voices we can get in addition to ours, the more likelihood of a successful outcome."

Information from: Liana White, Executive Director, Canadian Federation of Musicians
416-391-5161/800-463-6333 ext 232,

Previously Posted:

The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is proposing vast increases to O & P Visa Fees. This proposition could affect all Canadian artists seeking to perform/tour paid shows in the U.S.  This article provides a fairly good overview:

The AFM has been meeting weekly with their U.S. lobby group strategizing, forming unified messaging and official comment. The group is also reaching out to various contacts in an effort to bombard USCIS with comments opposing these increases. 

Canadians, please reach out to all US buyers, venues, artists, associations, etc., you may work with to seek their assistance; and provide Liana with your/their comments. Americans, please lend your voice to this cause of action – as it will be U.S. businesses that the U.S. government will primarily consider comments from.  As follows:

Some points to consider in forming your comments:

  • International artists are engaged throughout the arts and entertainment industry, which is still itself recovering from the effects of COVID-19. Most of these entities do not, in fact, have the ability to pay these proposed fees, nor do the foreign artists engaged. 
  • Drastic fee increases will stifle international cultural activity, put U.S.-based jobs at risk, and have a negative economic ripple effect on communities supported by arts events.
  • Delays in processing are already forcing some organizations and artists to pay the already unaffordable Premium Processing Fee or forgo engaging international artists.