Immigration Agency Working to Fix Visa Denials to Artists, Others

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2010

The nation’s immigration chief has launched a effort to quell the outcry from Hollywood and the performing arts community about a spike in visa denials, processing delays and requests for evidence to support their petitions to bring in leading foreign artists for U.S. performances.

In the last year, immigration attorneys across the nation have loudly complained about mounting roadblocks for performance visas from the California service center, which processes petitions for so-called O and P visas for artists and researchers of extraordinary ability.

{snip}

In other cases, California officials also challenged visa petitions in the last year that aimed to bring in an Indian group to perform at a California festival honoring the Hindu goddess Durga, a Chicago opera company seeking to bring in a Spanish singer and an African musical group.

{snip}

Alejandro Mayorkas, appointed to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services last year, said he was still investigating the reasons for the increased problems. But he acknowledged that U.S. immigration data back up the complaints.

{snip}

In response to the outcry, which has reached Congress and the White House, Mayorkas has pledged speedier processing times and greater consistency in judging the visa petitions. He has ordered a broad review of visa guidelines, pledged to process visa petitions in 14 days and vowed to increase staff training. He has also launched a project to investigate the requests for evidence.

{snip}

“We’ve been very focused on listening, learning and responding,” Mayorkas said. “The O and P visas were established by Congress with the understanding that the introduction into this country of talent from all over the world brings needed and desired diversity to our artistic and cultural landscape. We should adjudicate the petitions with that intention and spirit in mind.”

{snip}

Slow processing times had been a major concern. Chad Smith, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s vice president of artistic planning, said the delays began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks but had worsened in recent years, forcing his organization to pay an extra $1,000 per case for expedited visa processing.

“The need for premium processing greatly impacted our bottom line,” he said.

{snip}

Immigration attorneys have also complained that they have been repeatedly asked to provide evidence to meet standards that are not required by law.

{snip}

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.

Comments are closed.