This month, Orlando Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost and eight House Democratic colleagues sent a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) calling on the agency to halt the adoption of a new rule that would impose a huge increase in visa fees for traveling artists, including touring musicians, looking to come to the U.S. to work in the arts and entertainment industry.
Rep. Frost said the rule, which would increase the costs for O and P visas by 260 and 251 percent, would have a devastating impact in places like Orlando and Central Florida, where thousands of entertainers come to work in performance industries like music, tv, movie production, and athletics.
“Our Central Florida entertainment community is still bouncing back from the devastating impacts of the pandemic,” said Rep. Frost. “We should be doing everything in our power to help this critical industry and the small businesses that support performers thrive again, not increase costs that only hurt artists and local venues. Our theme parks, music venues, and even our local sports team can and will suffer as a result. This rule cannot go into place.”
In a statement of support, the American Federation of Musicians, Recording Industry Association of America, and SAG-AFTRA said, “We are so grateful to Rep. Frost and his colleagues for sounding the alarm about these massive artist fee hikes that will drag down the music economy and deprive U.S. audiences of access to thousands of global artists – especially diverse new voices and those working in less commercial genres. These proposed hikes would undermine America’s global music leadership as peer nations retaliate against U.S. artists with fee hikes of their own, undercutting a vital U.S. export and limiting the reach of American values and ideas.”
“International performers are a mainstay at independent venues and festivals across the country and spur financial benefits and cultural diversity in communities,” said Stephen Parker, Executive Director of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). “The USCIS’s proposed rule to more than quadruple visa fees for performers will result in fewer shows being hosted in the United States, harming independent venues and the businesses surrounding them. According to the Music Managers Forum-UK, 70% of U.K. artists planning to perform in the United States would be unable to with the proposed fee increases. These increases will reduce diversity and equity, decrease investment in communities, and inevitably make tickets more expensive for fans. The National Independent Venue Association opposes the USCIS’s proposed rule and applauds Representative Frost and congressional members for weighing in on this critical issue.”
Congressman Frost was joined by Reps. Daniel Goldman (NY-10), Dina Titus (NV-01), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Greg Casar (TX-35), and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) in signing the letter.
Here is the full text of the congressional letter: