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Published:April 7th, 2006 03:22 EST
State Department Explains Visa Process for Entertainers

State Department Explains Visa Process for Entertainers

By SOP newswire

The Department of State has long recognized the importance of cultural
exchange and strongly supports the travel of international entertainers to this country (America). Performances by international artists provide enriching and rewarding experiences for both American audiences and the visiting entertainers.

Consular sections around the world go to great lengths to facilitate
travel for visiting entertainers. We often arrange for entertainment
groups to appear outside regular processing hours to streamline
processing. In addition, performers can apply at any consular section
worldwide, not just in their place of legal residence.

In fiscal year 2005, the Department of State issued nearly 44,000 visas
for entertainers and artists, many of them expedited in order to meet
performance schedules. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina, we were able to help several large musical groups obtain visas in three days in order to play in benefit performances for hurricane relief.

CNN recently reported on a rock band from Iran that participated in the
famous South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The Department of State coordinated the complex visa application process for the band
members that enabled them to participate in the festival. Our embassies and consulates in Europe spend significant amounts of time supporting the travel of orchestras and dance troupes from all over the world.

By law, each applicant for a visa, even if part of a larger group, must
be personally interviewed and their fingerprints collected. In addition,
entertainers require special visas processed on the basis of a petition
filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). All 211
of our visa processing offices recognize the importance of processing
these visas in a timely fashion, once we receive the approved petitions
from USCIS. Our consular officers recognize that managing the personal appearance of all members of a large group can be challenging and work with performers to help coordinate this process.

All of our efforts to assist international artists are informed by the
desire of the United States to welcome entertainers, as we welcome all
legitimate international travelers.

Department of State assistance available to entertainers seeking to obtain visas was explained in a media note issued by the department April 6.

"Consular sections around the world go to great lengths to facilitate
travel for visiting entertainers," the note says. " We often arrange for
entertainment groups to appear outside regular processing hours to
streamline processing. In addition, performers can apply at any consular section worldwide, not just in their place of legal residence."

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2005, the Department of State issued nearly 44,000 visas for entertainers and artists, many of them expedited to meet performance schedules.

For more information on U.S. policies, see Visas, Passports and
Immigration (http://usinfo.state.gov/gi/global_issues/immigration.html).

Source: The US State Dept.