Published Oct 31, 2016As every Canadian musician knows all too well, touring the United States is a nightmare. While the country itself is a promised land of short drives between shows, cheap gas and endless fast food, getting across the border can be an expensive, bureaucratic nightmare. While a petition to scrap the P2 visa for touring bands has been heating up, the United States government has responded by hiking up their visa fees.
Billboard reports that the fee for a P2 visa has risen from $325 USD ($425 CAD) to $460 USD ($615 CAD) per band. That's a jump of 42 percent, and it will go into effect on December 20.
The price increase applies to all "artists, entertainers and athletes" from around the world. While the argument could be made that it's still a simpler process for Canadians, who don't have to go through a consulate like other citizens from around the world, it's still an unprecedented price jump.
Liana White, the executive director of the Canadian Federation of Musicians, told Billboard, "While we recognize that for Canadians the USCIS artist visa process may be more simplified than other musicians seeking to enter the United States under the same permits, however, a fee surge of this kind adds an additional and unacceptable financial burden on our members."
CFM plans to lobby against this decision in a meeting with USCIS that was scheduled for November 2. At the very least, the price jump can be used to leverage better service from the United States.
"The position and arguments of the AFM/CFM and the arts coalition will urge USCIS to respond to its current lack of quality in service, and to press for vast improvements and consistency in processing times — especially now considering the substantial fee hikes," White added.
Assuming the price increase is not redacted, the CFM is recommending that all P2 visa applications are submitted before December 19 to avoid paying the increased fee.