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MU forms taskforce and initiates consultation on US visa issues for British artists

By | Published on Friday 29 January 2016

Musicians' Union

The Musicians’ Union has announced that a taskforce it set up with British Underground to look into issues around American visas is now consulting artists and managers to inform future lobbying activity on the issue.

Problems and costs related to the visas required by British artists performing in the US have long been debated, though the MU was motivated to launch its taskforce last year to tackle the ongoing issues after it “received horrendous reports of cancelled tours and rearranged flights due to failures in the US work visa processing mechanism”.

The organisation says that “one of the priorities for the taskforce will be lobbying for greater parity between UK and US visa costs and processes. The cost of a four-piece band requiring [US] work visas and petitions can cost in the region of £6000, and that’s before any crew costs are also factored in plus before any flights and accommodation are sourced. Whereas in the UK a tier five visa can cost just £900 or a sponsored work permit just £84”.

Noting the issue had been already been raised in Parliament by Conservative MP Nigel Adams, the MU says it has now written to culture minister Ed Vaizey to propose a meeting to discuss the issues and possible solutions. It’s as part of that lobbying work that the MU and British Underground are now seeking input from the wider music community.

The MU’s Dave Webster, who is chairing the taskforce, told reporters: “This longstanding issue remains a huge concern to the MU. The aim of the taskforce is to persuade the US authorities to work with us to find workable solutions to the problems musicians encounter. UK musicians have always fared well in the US and it’s a significant market for our members”.