Opinion: On musician touring visas, the United States needs to change its tune

Posted on
April 11, 2023
Tagged as
andrew cash, globe and mail, touring, USA, visa

Article by CIMA's President & CEO Andrew Cash

Contributed to The Globe and Mail

On Sept. 11, 2001, my band was driving through Pennsylvania on the way to New York for our album-release show the next day – but when we found out about the terror attacks, we didn’t need anyone to tell us that the gig was cancelled and the rest of our tour postponed. We drove straight back home to Canada. But when we returned several months later, one of the many things that had changed was how difficult and slow it was for us to cross the border.

That was to be expected then. But in the ensuing years, it has become even more costly and challenging for Canadian artists to cross the border into the United States. And in the wake of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Ottawa last month, and with Parliament set to modernize the Broadcasting Act to account for, among many things, the borderlessness of recorded music, now seems like an ideal time to start tackling this access issue for live music.

Already, most Canadian acts do their touring on an east/west axis, rather than a north/south one, because of how hard it is for many musicians to gain entry into the U.S. But proposed new visa pricing from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could make it even harder: Visas are expected to increase by more than 250 per cent, depending on the type of visa, with the cheapest one going from US$460 to US$1,615. If a band needs a support crew, that could mean another US$1,615 a crew or band. Unsurprisingly, many artists have to pay extra to expedite or navigate this process – further adding up to US$4,000, thank you very much.

Continue reading the full article on The Globe and Mail by clicking here.

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