Touring in a foreign country ain’t cheap, and it might soon become even more expensive for artists to bring their music to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed significant price increases for the O-type and P-type visas granted to performers. Under the proposed change, the cost of an O-type visa petition would increase from $460 to $1,655 — an increase of 260%. The fee for P-type petitions would rise from $460 to $1,615 — a 251% bump.
This potential change has caused concern among many musicians in Canada. The nonprofit organization Folk Music Ontario has posted a call to action linking to the US federal register, where concerned parties can register a comment on the proposed rule change. Americans wishing to sound off on the policy must comment at the link on or before March 6.
Canadian musicians including the Weather Station (pictured) and Tess Roby have also raised the alarm. “Holy shit,” Roby wrote on Twitter, sharing Folk Music Ontario’s post. “They want to triple the cost of US touring Visas for Canadian artists. PLEASE make your voice heard and share this widely!” The Weather Station’s Tamara Lindeman amplified Roby’s tweet, adding, “If you are a US citizen or Organization, please make an official comment on this – instructions below – For context we already spend thousands of dollars just on visas to enter the US; it’s the only country we tour to with these prohibitive visa costs.” In a subsequent tweet, Lindeman continued, “It’s a huge hardship to pay such high visa fees, in addition to a 30% withholding tax when we play in the US. It is hard enough to make money on tour as it is.”
In an email to Stereogum alerting us to the situation, Tom McGreevy of Ducks Ltd. wrote, “This is a pretty big deal for bands from other countries, as it’s a significant burden on newer bands especially, but is also something that would impact American audiences in a significant way, as it’s going to discourage an awful lot of bands from touring and taking the first steps in building an audience here.”