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Sen. John Kerry, sponsor of the bill

Senate Passes Artist Visa Amendment
Published June 9, 2006

The U.S. Senate has approved a provision to require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to speed up visa processing for artists as part of the comprehensive immigration bill.

On May 25th, the U.S. Senate approved a provision to require U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to speed up visa processing for artists as part of the comprehensive immigration bill.

This is a major milestone in the five-year quest to improve the visa process for foreign guest artists.

The amendment would reduce the current processing times for O and P arts-related visa petitions to a maximum of 45 days by requiring USCIS to treat any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to adjudicate within 30 days as a Premium Processing case, free of additional charge. This provision will improve opportunities for U.S. audiences to experience international artistry and will significantly reduce the anxiety, uncertainty, and financial costs currently suffered by nonprofit arts organizations pursuing artist visas.

The artist visa provision was filed by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and was included in a larger package of amendments to the Senate immigration bill. Because the amendment was part of a larger package there is no up-or-down voting record on the specific artist provision. Key support was provided by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Edward Kennedy (D-MA). The Senators below also provided crucial leadership to make sure this provision was included in the final bill.

Sam Brownback (R-KS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Arlen Specter (R-PA)


The efforts to improve the visa process for guest artists is led by the Performing Arts Visa Task Force, which includes the American Arts Alliance, American Federation of Musicians, American Symphony Orchestra League, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance/USA, North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents, OPERA America, and Theatre Communications Group.