02.28.18

Leahy And Hatch Introduce Bipartisan ARTS Act, To Speed Processing Of Visas For Visiting Artists

U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), both former chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have introduced the Arts Require Timely Service Act (ARTS Act), a bill that would require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide premium processing (15-day turnaround) free of charge for any arts-related O or P visa petition that it fails to adjudicate within 14 days as required by law.

Leahy said:  "The ARTS Act ensures that organizations like the Vermont Symphony Orchestra can tap global talent and fully engage in international cultural exchange without arbitrary and unnecessary government restrictions and delays.  Visiting artists enrich our communities, and it is high time that we create a permanent solution for this problem.” 

Hatch said:  “Utah’s performing arts enrich our state and culture.  Unfortunately, when our orchestras and theater companies seek to host performers from other countries, they often run into delays and other problems with visa processing. This increases the cost of hosting visiting performers, and in some cases, can even lead to postponement or cancellation of long-planned events. The Artists Require Timely Service Act, or ARTS Act, will simplify visa processing for such performers so that our performing arts groups can have greater certainty as they seek to bring world-class artists to our state.”

Background

  • Nonprofit arts organizations from all regions of the country and in communities of all sizes engage foreign guest artists. In towns and cities across the United States, orchestras, theatres, and dance and opera companies present international artists to US audiences.
  • Following significant delays, errors, and unpredictability in visa processing, some U.S.-based nonprofit arts organizations have been forced to stop engaging international artists. These organizations have determined that they are unable to bear the financial risk, and administrative burden associated with artist visa processing.
  • Nonprofit arts organizations often cannot afford the Premium Processing Service (PPS) fee of $1,225 per petition. The PPS fee reduces the amount of money available for a production or performance and can represent a significant portion of an organization’s operating budget and the costs associated with a production or performance.
  • The ARTS Act applies only to temporary, nonimmigrant visas for foreign artists visiting the United States. O and P visas do not add to the number of individuals permanently living and working in the United States.
  • Congress recognized the time-sensitive nature of engaging visiting artists when it enacted the 1991 federal law on O and P visas. The 1991 law instructs USCIS to process O and P arts visas in 14 days. This mandate has never been implemented by USCIS.
  • The ARTS Act would require USCIS to provide premium processing free of charge for any arts-related O or P visa petition filed by a nonprofit arts organization that USCIS fails to adjudicate within 14 days.

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693