The US Department of Homeland Security has proposed changes to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule that will make it significantly more difficult and more expensive for international artists wanting to travel to work in the US. Under the proposed rule changes, the fees for International artist visas will increase by over 250%. The proposal is open for public comment through March 6, 2023.
The increased costs are intended primarily to provide funding for increased staffing to reduce backlogs on processing of applications, annual federal employee pay raises, and a $600 surcharge to cover the costs of the organization’s humanitarian asylum program. Premium processing is an optional upcharge which expedites visa processing at a cost of $2500. This upcharge fee may be a necessity for some petitioners given the backlogs in processing by USCIS. However, the proposed rule changes also increase the delays in visa decisions even with the premium upcharge, as the processing timeline is changed from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
Additionally, DHS proposes to limit the number of named beneficiaries per petition to 25. While the argument is made that it will simplify the process and reduce -average- processing time for petitions, it increases the burden on smaller entities trying to make arrangements for larger Korean performing groups from a cost perspective.
With all of these changes that negatively affect the petitioners for US Visas for international artist tours, fans could reasonably expect that those increased costs will be passed on to them in the form of increased ticket costs. Additionally, while this change affects International artists from any country, this change also significantly impacts Korean artists and K-Pop in particular given the large size of some groups (10+ in some cases) as well as the fact that many of these groups travel with an army of managers, dancers, stylists, production staff and, in some cases, translators to support those teams. Thus, many tour groups easily exceed the limit of 25 individuals, requiring multiple petitions, and an increased risk of having tours canceled when one petition is approved but another is rejected or delayed.
You can see the rule document here, and a summary and FAQ here. There is a 60-day comment period ending March 6, 2023 to allow the public to participate in the rulemaking by submitting data, views, or arguments on any aspect of this proposed rule. Both stakeholders and the public can comment on the proposed rule document, and are encouraged to support international artists and the touring industry which, like USCIS, are also trying to rebound from the impact of COVID-19.
DHS suggests that the most helpful comments will reference specific portions of the rule (in this case, the increase in the fees when filing form I-129 for O and P type visas), suggest changes and the reason justifying that change, and any information supporting the recommended changes. USCIS is seeking feedback about the ability of petitioners to pay, so comments about the economic impact can potentially be the most constructive. Comments will be posted publicly and will be reviewed before the final rule changes go into effect.