Academic journal article The University of Memphis Law Review

The Visa Process Hits a Sour Note for Musicians and Performing Arts Organizations

Academic journal article The University of Memphis Law Review

The Visa Process Hits a Sour Note for Musicians and Performing Arts Organizations

Article excerpt

I. WHAT'S GOING ON?: INTRODUCTION ....................................... 158

II. RING OF FIRE: CURRENT IMMIGRATION FOR MUSICIANS ......... 160

A. Let's Stay Together: Policies Behind Immigration for Musicians ............................................... 160

B. Yesterday: History of Immigration Law for Musicians ................................................................... 162

C. Good Golly, Miss Molly.· The Visa Process for Musicians ................................................................... 165

1. California Dreamin ': Categories of Nonimmigrant Visas for which Musicians are Eligible .................................................................. 166

2. Tangled up in Blue: A Lengthy, Obtrusive Process.... 168

III. HELP!: PROBLEMS WITH THE PROCESS AS IT IS TODAY .......... 170

A. For What It's Worth: Expense .......................................... 170

1. Papa 's Got a Brand New Bag: Filing and Processing Fees ........................................................... 170

2. Mystery Train: Travel Fees ......................................... 171

B. River Deep, Mountain High: Time .................................. 172

C. All Along the Watchtower: Criteria and Approval ......... 174

1. I Heard it through the Grapevine: "Sustained and Substantial Period of Time" ................ 174

2. Mr. Tambourine Man: "Extraordinary Ability" .......... 177

3. Suspicious Minds: "Culturally Unique" ...................... 178

4. I Walk the Line: Approval Process .............................. 1 78

IV. A CHANGE IS GONNA COME: HOW THE ARTS ACT

Helps to Remedy the Problems ....................................... 1 79

V. THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING: SOLUTIONS FOR SOLVING THE REMAINING PROBLEMS WITH O AND P NONIMMIGRANT VISA PETITIONING ......................... 182

A. Bridge over Troubled Water: Criteria and Approval ....... 1 82

1. My Generation: "Substantial Period of Time" ............ 182

2. Respect: "Extraordinary Ability," "Cultural Uniqueness," and the Approval Process ...... 183

B. Gimme Shelter: Expense .................................................. 184

VI. THAT'LL BE THE DAY: CONCLUSION ....................................... 185

Music is the universal language of mankind.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow1

I. WHAT'S GOING ON?: INTRODUCTION

For the last three decades, the College Music Journal ("CMJ") has scheduled hundreds of musicians from around the world for its Music Marathon, an annual musical festival in New York City. People from across the United States flock to hear new sounds from well-established favorites and brand new musicians alike. As an international event, the festival's organizers should know a thing or two about the visa application process for musicians.2 However, even the CMJ Music Marathon, the longestrunning event of its kind, has yet to master the visa application process for the artists it sponsors. In 2009, at least three artists scheduled to perform at the festival had to cancel at the last minute because of visa delays.3 Award-winning British rap star Speech Debelle, Swedish sisters who form the band First Aid Kit, and the British singer V. V. Brown all experienced visa application delays which forced them to cancel their festival appearances.

The CMJ Music Marathon is not alone in singing the visaproblem blues. British band Bad Lieutenant was forced to cancel four U.S. tour dates in 2009.4 Fyfe Dangerfield experienced charttopping success as lead singer of the British indie rock band the Guillemots, yet when he set out on a solo tour, he had to cancel all U.S. dates due to delays in the adjudication of his U.S. visa. From 2008 to 2009, the number of visas granted to performers "with extraordinary ability in the sciences, art, education, business, or athletics," who are "internationally recognized athletefs] or member[s] of an internationally recognized entertainment group," and who are "artistfs] or entertainers] in a culturally unique program" decreased by nearly ten percent. …

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