In 2017, the Ministry of Homeland Security began to more strictly apply a common “alternative solution” for artists – the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA), which allows individuals and groups to enter the country as unemployed tourists. The agency stated that “it conducts a comprehensive review of fees every two years and has determined that current fees do not fully cover the costs of legal aid and naturalization services. It added that the new rule is based on projections that “in the second half of the fiscal year , USCIS will receive $1.1 billion less in non-resource revenues than previously estimated”. DHS raises visa fees for touring artists The Ministry of Homeland Security announced last week changes that will take effect in early October. The O visa, which applies to “people with extraordinary abilities or achievements,” will increase from $460 to $705, or 53 percent, while the P visa, which usually applies to “culturally unique” groups or artists, will increase from $460 to $695, or 51 percent. The biggest problem,” said Matthew Covey, immigration attorney for the nonprofit Tamizdat, “is that the [immigration and naturalization] decision, and then the USCIS decision to regulate R&D, became so arbitrary and clumsy that most art institutions were forced to hire lawyers to do business for them. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security, announced the change in the federal register Thursday, just before the Labor Day weekend. This requires that O and P visas, which apply to individual artists or groups and allow them to work in the United States for a period of time, be increased by approximately 50 percent. This re-introduction at a time of major changes in immigration policy led to the expulsion or denial of entry of several music bands. Although it is not yet known when musicians and artists will be able to return to tour to perform in concert halls, those who stay abroad and hope to tour the United States will face higher costs if they want to do so legally. The program is often used by promising artists to perform at unpaid industry events, such as most Southwestern concerts. However, paid or unpaid work is considered USCIS work.
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