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Music industry calls on UK government to lobby US counterparts about proposed visa fee price hike

By | Published on Thursday 2 March 2023

Music industry calls on UK government to lobby US counterparts about proposed visa fee price hike

A plethora of music industry organisations have signed a letter to UK Business And Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch urging her to pressure the American government to drop proposals to significantly increase the cost for British artists securing a visa to perform in the US.

It follows the recent extension of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign by the Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum, which was originally set up to tackle the challenges Brexit has posed for touring musicians, but which is also now campaigning against the proposed visa fee hikes in the US.

The new letter, organised by UK Music, explains: “On 4 Jan 2023, the US Department Of Homeland Security announced a proposed increase in filing/petition fees for certain types of touring visa fees for non-US citizens”.

“The proposals mean that petition fees for the P visa – used for acts to perform temporarily in the US – will increase by 251% from $460 (£385) to $1,615 (£1,352). Meanwhile, the O visa – used for a longer-term working visit – would climb by 260% from $460 (£385) to $1,655 (£1,375)”.

“In both cases, these fees would each include a $600 (£499) surcharge to support the US asylum process”, it adds. “It is inherently unfair that musicians in the UK are being burdened with the bill for US immigration policy”.

Those visa fee increases – coupled with other surging costs in the live music domain – would mean touring in America would no longer be commercially viable for many British artists, for whom the US is a key target market.

Noting the UK government’s previous response to the proposed visa fee price hike, the letter continues: “We were disappointed to see recent comments on this issue by Minister For Media, Data And Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP [who said] ‘the UK Government cannot interfere in another country’s processes and must respect their systems, just as we expect them to respect the UK’s processes’”.

“While we recognise that the government cannot interfere in another country’s processes”, it adds, “to suggest the UK government cannot work with the US to resolve this issue undermines the UK’s current approach to conducting state-level deals as potential precursor to a UK-US free trade agreement”.

“The US is one of our oldest allies, a nation with which we share values, share a language, and share a proud history of vibrant cultural exchange”, the letter goes on. “That two-way exchange has brought huge social, cultural and economic benefits to both our great countries – and ensuring that creative professionals can continue to travel between our two countries as easily as possible is integral to the special relationship we enjoy”.

It then concludes: “We are therefore calling on the UK government to work with their US counterparts as a matter of urgency to avoid what would be a mutually damaging outcome for both countries”.

The FAC and MMF’s #LetTheMusicMove campaign – which is being publicly backed by an increasing number of artists, including Rina Sawayama, Hot Chip, Idles and Steam Down – are urging more members of the music community to declare their support and take action. More details on how to get involved in the campaign are available here.