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UK music industry groups welcome pausing of US government plan to significantly increase visa fees

By | Published on Monday 24 July 2023

UK music industry trade groups last week welcomed the recent news that plans by the US Department Of Homeland Security to significantly increase the costs of visas for foreign artists and crew touring in the country have been paused.

The US government department confirmed earlier this month that a final decision on those plans will not now be made until March next year. It is hoped that means government officials are giving serious consideration to the widespread opposition that was communicated after they proposed increasing visas fees by more than 250%.

Music industry groups in the US, UK and elsewhere were very critical of the proposed fee increases, noting that they would make touring in the US commercially unviable for many international artists who are already battling surging production costs when it comes to live activity.

Based on a recent update from the Department Of Homeland Security, the League Of American Orchestras last week noted that the government department “is continuing to consider public feedback submitted in response to the proposal, which included numerous comments from the arts sector opposing proposals that would more than triple the current artist visa filing fee”.

“An announcement of final rules in March 2024″, it added, will now “set new fee levels that could differ from the proposed fees, confirm any policy changes, and also set a date by which any changes would take effect”.

The UK’s Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition, which reignited their #LetTheMusicMove initiative earlier this year to campaign against the proposed hike in US visa fees, said that the pausing of a final decision on those fee increases was “a minor victory, but an important one”.

They went on: “The MMF and FAC are heartened that concerted global action, particularly in the UK via the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, appears to be making an impact. The support for our campaign has been incredible, particularly from the artist and management communities, and we will continue to make the case for policies that reduce the cost and bureaucracy of international touring and cultural exchange”.

The Musicians’ Union’s Head Of International Dave Webster added: “This is very welcome news, and whilst we do not yet know the full extent of the changes that may follow, it does look as though the original proposal will not go ahead in its proposed form. It’s testament to the power of collective advocacy from the arts sector not just in the UK but across the globe, and it’s encouraging that the US authorities are taking our concerns seriously”.

And Tom Kiehl, Deputy CEO at UK Music, stated: “UK Music is pleased that damaging proposals to severely increase US visa petition fees have been paused. The US is a key market for UK acts and breaking America is as important now to artists’ careers as it was in the days of The Beatles. We will continue to work with music industry bodies from both the UK and overseas to ensure touring in the US is affordable for all performers and their crew”.

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