Canadian Musicians Prepare for Higher US Visa Processing Fee

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a substantial increase in I-129 filing fees, effective for petitions postmarked on or after December 23, 2016.

More details will be released by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) by the end of business October 25 – and again on November 3 – after direct, scheduled communication’s with USCIS on the fee increase.

For Canadian musicians working in the U.S., please note the following processing delay alert:

Regular Processing: Submit your P2 package to the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) at least 120 calendar days prior to first performance. (US Immigration reports a processing backlog for Regular Processing.)

Premium Processing: Submit your P2 package to CFM at least 30 days prior to first performance.

NOTE: U.S. Immigration processing times are beyond CFM’s control and can increase/decrease at any time, without notice. (The recommended timelines are based on observed average processing times.)
 
Urgent: The fee for U.S. work permits (all P’s & O’s) has been increased by the Department of Homeland Security and United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS). To avoid incurring the increase at this time, please submit your P2 application to the CFM no later than Thursday, December 15 (for receipt in CFM’s office by Monday, December 19).

Any applications submitted and/or received by the AFM/CFM Office on December 20, or after, will require the new processing fee of $460 USD [prior to December 20, the fee remains $325USD].

This petition fee will still be payable to the Department of Homeland Security. If filing using Premium Processing, that fee has not been increased by USCIS.

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The Premium Processing fee remains $1,225. Despite concerns raised by several national performing arts organization in joint comments submitted to the Federal Register, the following fees will increase:

     

  • The fee for the regular I-129 petition for a nonimmigrant worker will increase from $325 to $460.
  • The fee for the I-539 petition to extend/change status (used for spouses and dependents) will increase from $290 to $370.
  • The fee for the I-824 petition for action on an approved application or petition (usually used to request a duplicate I-797 notice of approval) will increase from $405 to $465.

 
On July 6, the Performing Arts Visa Working Group submitted formal comments to USCIS raising serious concerns about the disproportionate increase of 42% in the fee increase for filing I-129 petitions, compared to the weighted average increase of 21% that USCIS is applying to other fees.

This increase adds a significant burden to nonprofit arts petitioners considering the serious and persisting delays in visa processing that have already been creating a harmful impact for more than a year.

The Working Group‘s comments urged USCIS to ensure that any fee increase be accompanied not merely by a maintenance of service, but by significant policy improvements. When the increase goes into effect on December 24, 2016, petitioners should keep a close eye on the timing and quality of visa processing.

To avoid delays in processing, please note the fee change and plan accordingly. All petitions postmarked on or after December 23, 2016 should include the new fee of $460. Do not submit the higher fee any earlier than this date.

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For more information on the latest USCIS processing fees and changes, visit the CFM website here.