The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has instituted a 250 percent visa fee increase for international artistes hoping to tour in the US.


According to AP News, the visa fee was increased from the sum of $460 to $1,615 or $1,655 on April 1.

If an artiste has supporting staff, a backing band, or other employees to bring on the tour, these individuals need visas too.

Bands and ensemble groups pay per performer. If performers cannot wait a few months for approval, they would have to add an extra $2,805 per application for quick processing.


“A standard rock band of four members went from paying $1,840 to around $6,460. And if you can’t wait a few months for approval, add $2,805 per application for expedited processing,” the news outlet added.

The money is non-refundable if the application is not accepted.

Gabriel Castro, an immigration attorney, said all international musicians require work authorisation to perform in the US.


He, however, said there are few exceptions reserved for “showcases through the Visa Waiver Program — where international artistes perform exclusively at official events, without pay and for exposure.

“Even if you are Capitol Records and you have all the money in the world to throw at it, you still can’t get rid of US bureaucracy,” he said.

Castro said the US government is “putting more and more burden on the application process”.

The attorney said twenty years ago, applications were just two or three pages. He, however, added that they are now 15 to 20 pages long.


“And those are just the forms before supporting evidence,” he said.

“Now I am submitting documents that are 200 pages, 300 pages long just to explain why this band should be traveling throughout the United States.”

He said the application process may have changed over time to “account for abuses in the system and to make sure that individuals that are coming here for certain activities actually have those activities in place”.

Castro added that the increased scrutiny is a lingering effect of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.


US artistes, on the other hand, can enter most countries without a visa and under an exception to tourism rules.

The last increase in US visa fees was in 2016 when it went up from $325 to $460.

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