192 cultural organisations call to the European Commission on US artist visas costs increase
A new US proposal for change on immigration rules would impact heavily the European cultural sector and jeopardise the EU-US cultural relations.

To the attention of:

Valdis DOMBROVSKIS, Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade
Margaritis SCHINAS, Vice-president
Mariya GABRIEL, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
Ylva JOHANSSON, Commissioner for Home Affairs


On behalf of 192 cultural associations and organisations, we write to call for your specific attention and your support in relation to a US proposal for change on immigration rules which will impact heavily the European cultural sector and jeopardise the EU-US cultural relations.

Last January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a proposed rule that would impose very steep increases to some of its filing fees, including for O and P artist visas applications.

This new rule proposes:

  • Filing fees for regularly processed O visa petitions would increase by 260% from $460 to $1,655 per petition (this would include a $600 surcharge to fund the Asylum Program Fee).
  • Filing fees for regularly-processed P visa petitions would increase by 251% from $460 to $1,615 per petition (this would include a $600 surcharge to fund the Asylum Program Fee).
  • The total number of individuals on a single petition, including O and P arts petitions, would be capped at 25 beneficiaries. This would require numerous petitions for larger ensembles. For example, a visiting ballet company comprising 110 dancers (or an orchestra comprising 110 musicians), plus a handful of accompanying support staff would require 6 visa petitions rather than 2.
  • The Premium Processing Service (unaffordable to most organizations at a current cost of $2,500) would take longer with USCIS redefining the timeframe from 15 calendar days to 15 business days (federal working days) in order to complete processing. As this fee was very recently increased, it is disappointing that proposed processing times would lengthen–decreasing efficiency–and fail to provide improvements after this additional funding has been realized.

The cultural relations between the USA and EU are intense and significant. Mobility of artists and cultural professionals is a core element of EU cultural policy and signifies the concrete implementation of art 167 TFEU on the promotion of the diversity of cultures. Culture is also a key component of EU external relations. In trade terms, the export of ‘personal, cultural and recreational services’ to US amounted to 19,4 billion Euros and import from US was as high as 22,8 billion Euros in 20212. The advantage for the US compared to EU is demonstrated by the fact that currently, cultural services belong to the group of top 3 imports from the US into the EU.

Artists and cultural professionals from the USA enjoy visa-exempt status when travelling to the Schengen area and have exemptions for labour permits in a large majority of EU members states in case of short stays. In addition, in accordance with the US double tax treaty, US performing artists enjoy a competitive advantage to European performing artists thanks to a tax exemption when earning below a threshold. All those advantages allow for easier travel and a proportionally higher traffic from US-based artists to the EU with no extra costs.

By contrast, for several decades the US have applied complicated visa rules and expensive visa procedures, which result in a continuous competitive disadvantage for artists from Europe. It is with certainty that this imbalance will increase if the newly proposed visa rules will be introduced.

European organisations have addressed this situation many times to the Commission, including on the occasion of the EU-US Summit on 15 June 2021 in an open letter addressed to Commission President von der Leyen, Council President Michel and President Biden.

We call upon your help to express concerns on behalf of the EU to the US regarding the proposed increase of visa costs and its impact on artists.

Anita Debaere, Pearle*- Live Performance Europe, anita@pearle.eu

Marie Le Sourd, On the Move, mobility@on-the-move.org

On behalf of the undersigned

European and international organisations
Association des Centres Culturels de rencontre (ACCR)
Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC)
Central European Organisation Artist Management
ELIA, globally connected European network for higher arts education
Europe Jazz Network (EJN)
European Association of Artist Managers (AEAA)
European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)
European Music Council (EMC)
European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA)
European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)
European Orchestra Federation (EOFed)
European Union of Music Competitions for Youth (EMCY)
International Artist Organisation (IAO)
International Federation of Musicians (FIM)
International Music Council (IMC)
On the Move
Opera Europa
Pearle* - Live Performance Europe
Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA Europe)
SOS - Save Our Spectrum
Trans Europe Halles

National organisations

3S Music Management
5000 Ltd
88 Music Management
Aakash Odedra Company
ALT@RT z.ú.
Ariën, Arts & Music Mgt
Art & Design Institut, Prague
Arts and Theatre Institute
Asociace profesionálních divadel České republiky
Asociación de Festivales de Música (FMA)
Athlone Artists
Azimuth Productions
BAM! Popauteurs (Dutch artists, songwriters, and producers’ organization)
Black Flower VZW
Bmkltsch Rcrds
Bookhooker Agency
Boris Orlob Management
Bozar, Centre for Fine Arts Brussels
Brullie Blom Producties
Bulgarian Music Association
Busker Artist Agency
Caroline Phillips Management
Copenhagen Opera Festival
Danish Artist Managers (DAM)
Dansk Teater
Day Four Management
Delage Artists
DF Artists
Dry Levee Entertainment
Dutch Music Export
eigenARTevents.com - Timo Holstein
Endewerf Managment
Esther Schollum Artists Management
Étude Arts, LLC
Federación Estatal de Asociaciones de Empresas de Teatro y Danza (FAETEDA)
FES Orchestra
Fett Music
Fletcher Artist Management
Front 242
Full Spectrum
Fuzzbox BV
Groove Music Productions
Hamburg Music Business e.V.
Harrison Parrott - Polyarts
Harrison Parrott DE
Harrison Parrott ES
Harrison Parrott FR
Harrison Parrott NL
Harrison Parrott UK
Headfirst Music
Heads Up mgmt
High Hat VZW
Hive Mind
Hopkinz.management & marketing
IMG Artists
Inside Jazz
Insignia Artists Management
Interclassica Music Management GmbH
Interessenverband Musikmanager & Consultants (IMUC)
International Theatre Institute - Czech centre
International Theatre Institute - German centre
International Theatre Institute - Macedonian centre
JM International
Judy Blank Music
Karsten Witt Musik Management
Kirchner Musikmanagement
Kleo Tuemmler Artist Management
Konzertbüro Andreas Braun
Konzertdirektion Hampl
Konzertdirektion Martin Müller
Kraak & Smaak
Kuenstlermanagement Till Doench
Künstlermanagement Uwe Kanthak
LAB Music
Lærke Uldal, EMC Fellow
Les Talens Lyriques
Lobby Call
Luzerner Theater
Machreich Artists Management GmbH
Magnum Opus Artists LLC
MAI Foundation - Piper Artists Management
Mark Kendall Artists Management FR
Mark Kendall Artists Management UK
Mark Stephan Buhl Artists Management
Martin Theander - Event organiser
MB Music Production
Melos Opera srl
Mercks Muziek
Mimi Harmer, EMC Fellow
Modemux - Artist & Event Services
Momentum Agency
Mothers Cake AG
MPS Hanseatic GmbH
Music and Lemon Pie
Music Managers Forum Finland
Music Managers Forum Netherlands
Music Managers Forum Sweden
National Fund for Cultural Participation
Nationaltheater Mannheim
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Opéra de Rouen Normandie
Opéra de Toulon
Ornella Cogliolo
Outliner Management
Paul van de Waterlaat.
Performing Arts Fund NL
Pip Blom
Polo Cultural Gaivotas Boavista
Producciones Submarinas
Production Services Association
REBIS Music Group
Rodeostar GmbH
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Royal Opera of Madrid
RSB Artists
Sayed Jamaluddin Hashemi, EMC Fellow
Scharmien Art
Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra Vienna
Segel Theatre Center
Society of Polish Philharmonics
Soepermarkt Music Management
Stichting Creator Preserver Destroyer
Stichting The Homesick
Swedish Performing Arts Coalition (Scensverige)
Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film
Swiss Music Council
Tatjana Seyfarth
Teatro de la Maestranza de Sevilla
The Lasses
TINFO - Theatre Info Finland
Tommy Advice BV
Traverso Management BV
Treetop Agency
Tubbax Management
Twist Agency
Valiart Management
Vereniging Nederlandse Poppodia en Festivals (VNPF)
VZW Bonk - Flat Earth Society Orchestra
Walboomers Music
Weinstadt Artists Management
Wolx Artist Management
Zentralrat Mitte GmbH / Marcsfirma / Bluelion records

192 cultural organisations call to the European Commission on US artist visas costs increase
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