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Foreign performers frustrated by US P-1 visa rules

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Since heightened security was established more than ten years ago following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, US P-1 visas for foreign artists and performers have become increasingly difficult to obtain. Critics have claimed that the visa obstacles are hurting the US' ability to host cultural events.
The increased difficulty in obtaining a P-1 visa from USCIS has deterred some foreign performers from traveling to the US. Others performers have applied for a visa but have had to cancel shows due to processing delays, ultimately costing thousands of dollars for the performers and their promoters.

According to the US Homeland Security Department, P-1 visa applications for the standard foreign performer's visa declined by almost 25 percent between 2006 and 2010. During the same period, the number of these P-1 visa petitions rejected increased by more than two-thirds.

While the standard performers P-1 visa costs USD$325, an expedited premium processing fee of USD$1,225 per application is offered for those wanting a response within two weeks. But critics complain that US immigration officials sometimes fail to meet that deadline. And to further complicate matters, the US doesn't allow for touring performers to apply for a P-1 visa before tour contracts are signed.

As part of the application process the arts group sponsoring the performance in the US must submit written proof of the artist's qualifications. US immigration advises performers to submit their application at least 90 days before their intended trip to the US.

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