Canadian musicians looking to perform in the U.S. are being hit in the pocket with a visa fee hike of more than 40 per cent.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced the rates for a P2 performer visa are to rise from US$325 to $US$460 from December 20.
The Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) says the increased fee will mean some performers will have to seriously consider whether they can afford to cross the border for a show.
Quick Facts: The Canada-U.S. Border
Longest international border in world at 8,891km, 2,475km of which is with Alaska.
400,000 people and $2.4 billion in trade cross the border each day.
Canada and U.S. are second and fourth largest countries in the world by area.
Canadian provinces and territories with U.S. borders: Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick.
US states with Canadian borders: Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine.
The federation has been lobbying – through its parent group in the U.S. – for the proposed visa hike to be scrapped. However, the group has been unsuccessful meaning the fee hike will come into force before Christmas.
Liana White, CFM’s Executive Director, said: “While we recognize that for Canadians the USCIS artist visa process may be more simplified than other musicians seeking to enter the United States under the same permits; however, a fee surge of this kind adds an additional and unacceptable financial burden on our members.”
Given the fee hike now looks unavoidable, the CFM is now switching its attention to processing times for the P2 visa, which have risen to as long as four months recently.
Musicians say they find it difficult to plan so far ahead, and often need a visa more quickly if they get the opportunity of a booking.
The CFM has advised all performers with plans to go to the U.S. to get their applications in before December 20 to avoid the increased fee.
Meanwhile, Canada is set to take issue with a U.S. policy that means Canadians admitting to using marijuana when trying to cross the border can face an indefinite ban.
Anyone admitting to ‘committing a crime involving moral turpitude’, regardless of conviction, can be prevented from crossing the border and banned.
Pot use fits this description and this means there are significant consequences if you confess historic marijuana use to a border agent.
Several Canadians have been issued with bans, with their only recourse being an appeals process which could result in a travel waiver, although accompanying costs are high.
Ralph Goodale, the federal government public safety minister with responsibility for the Canada Border Services Agency, says he will seek discussions on the topic with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, describing it as a ‘ludicrous situation’ in a television interview.
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