Why do I need a Visa?
Except in very specific circumstances all performance in the U.S. requires a visa, regardless of whether you are being paid or not or appearing before an audience.
Although we hear stories every year of people travelling without the correct documentation and getting away with it, some are not so lucky and, if caught, the penalties are severe.
- You will never be able to travel to the U.S. again without a visa
- Processing times for your visa will be far longer than normal
- You may face a 1, 5 or 10 year ban from being issued a visa for the U.S.
N.B. Following discussions with the U.S. Embassy, it may be possible to be considered exempt from the visa requirements in very specific showcasing situations. You should not yet be at the level of full professional musicians, and be performing an unpaid showcase for a non-paying audience, also have no arrest history and have never been refused a U.S. visa, or refused admission to the U.S., if this is the case we can advise on possible visa free travel. IN ALL OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES A PETITION VISA IS ADVISABLE.
What is the process?
THIS IS A TWO HANDED PROCESS. BOTH THE U.S. SIDE AND THE U.K. SIDE HAVE TO OCCUR FOR VALID VISAS TO BE PLACED IN THE PASSPORTS. YOU MUST BEGIN STEP ONE, WITH A U.S. COMPANY, BEFORE WE CAN ASSIST YOU.
Step 1 – Filing an I129 Petition
This is usually done by an attorney on behalf of a U.S. Company representing a band or performer.
If the band/performer have no U.S. representative company we recommend that they contact Covey Law/Tamizdat (details below) who are able to act as the petitioner on behalf of these acts.
Covey Law or whichever U.S. representative you are using will provide full details of their requirements and a quote when you contact them.
Step 2 – Applying for the Visa in the U.K.
All visa applicants are required to submit passports and support documents and pay embassy fees and may need to attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy. We generally provide support for those applying in London, Belfast or Dublin, for other countries we may only be able to assist with paperwork preparation and appointment booking rather than a complete service liaising with the Embassy on your behalf.
Raybourne Tours Ltd assists artists in preparing their application documents, booking the appointments or submitting documents for exemptions, and liaising with the Embassy for the return of the passports.
We charge an administrative fee for this, based on the number of applicants, the lead time given and if there are any applicants with arrest histories.
How much will it cost?
Each band or solo performer constitutes one I129 petition. Should the band have crew, or the solo performer require backing musicians and/or crew, they count as a second petition.
The cost in the U.S. is per petition. While costs for immigration professionals vary hugely and can be as much as $8000, in the example below we are using Covey Law/ Tamizdat who charge applicants around $1450 per petition
N.B. A petition can have 1 or 50 people on it for the same filing costs, but keep in mind that crew constitute a separate petition from band with the associated US costs.
The U.K. costs are per person, for visas fees, booking the appointments, return of passports and fees for companies like ours to prepare these applications for you.
Example – band with 4 members, leaving 3 months for processing
Government Filing Fees – $900.00
Union advisory letter – $450.00
Tamizdat fees and expenses – $1450.00
TOTAL – $2800.00
IF THE VISAS ARE NEEDED IN LESS THAN 3 MONTHS, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT OPERATES A 10-15 DAY PETITION PROCESS AT AN ADDITIONAL COST OF $2500.
U.K. Costs – Example
Embassy fees for 4 U.S. visas – £720.00 (this figure changes with exchange rates)
DX fees – £80.00
Tam Ray touring Fees x 4 – £480.00
VAT – £ 96.00
TOTAL – £1376.00
How long will the visa last?
The length of the visa depends on the category and how long the petitioner requests, based on proposed itineraries and confirmed gigs/recording etc.
O visas for solo artists can be for up to 3 years, though it is often unlikely you will be able to put together an itinerary to cover that, so in many circumstances a year would be a more reasonable request. P visas are valid for up to 1 Year.
But, it is the same cost whether you apply for 1 week or one year, so it would be useful to put together an itinerary of proposed gigs/recording/collaborative work, spaced across the year, so that you can get more bang for your buck.
Arrest History/Convictions/Overstays and Turnarounds
Anyone who has ever been arrested (even if never charged) must obtain a visa before travelling to the U.S. under any category (tourist, business visitor or performance). The same is true for anyone who has been denied Entry to or has overstayed in the U.S..
The rehabilitation of offenders act is not recognized under U.S. Immigration law. So no arrest ever gets wiped off the system even if it is wiped from U.K. police computers.
Processing time for the visa can be much longer for those you have any of the above problems with entry into the U.S., and previous visa issuance may have no bearing on the time scale for each new visa application.
All applicants with any kind of arrest history will have to obtain an ACRO certificate, which must be less than 6 months old when attending the Embassy appointment. Information available at http://www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx
Depending on the reason for your arrest, you may be sent for a medical to ascertain that you have no ongoing dependency or health problems.
If you were arrested in the U.S. you will also need to get your court files from http://www.uscourts.gov/CourtRecords.aspx Court documents must be obtained for convictions anywhere else in the world.
If your were denied entry you must take your turnaround report from U.S Customs and Border Protection, Form I-877 to the interview – If you did not keep a copy, you may be able to obtain a copy of the report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Please visit their website at http://www.cbp.gov for further information.
It is strongly recommended that you contact Katie as soon as possible to discuss the case, if any of this section applies to you.
RAYBOURNE TOURS LTD
Contact – Katie Ray
Kent CT4 7DT
Eugenia Karavolas, P.C.
315 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Tel: (212) 858-9993
Contact Genie Karavolas
Global Access Entertainment Visas
5670 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1970, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 936-7100 Fax: (323) 936-7197
Brande Lindsey Brande@globalaxs.net
Kushner & Kushner
Contact – Laya Kushner
6739 Fairview Road
Charlotte NC 28210
T – +1 704 362 1106
F – +1 704 362 1706
320 East 46th Street, 27A
New York, New York 10017
tel 212 757 1829
fax 516 806 2018 NEW
Ron Zeelens firstname.lastname@example.org
Traffic Control Group
18 East 41st Street
New York, NY 10017
Covey Law (Tamizdat)
20 Jay Street #308
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Matthew Covey email@example.com
Will Spitz firstname.lastname@example.org