UK music industry appeals to ministers over proposed US visa hikes

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The UK music industry has called on UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch to help block plans for a major hike in US visa costs.

It was revealed recently that the US Department of Homeland Security was considering an increase in visa costs by more than 250%.

In a letter signed by organisations from across the UK music industry, UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin noted the potential impact of the proposed increase for certain types of touring visa fees for non-US citizens.

Njoku-Goodwin appealed to Badenoch to call for the planned visa hikes to be scrapped, to avoid a major blow to the UK music industry and its talent pipeline. Further appeals have also been made to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

The US is the world’s largest music market and the second largest market for touring UK artists, after the EU. The process for applying for a US visa is already long and complex, and prohibitively expensive for many UK musicians.

In a survey by UK Music members Music Manager Forum and the Featured Artists Coalition, 70% of their own members said that the increased visa charges would mean they would not be able to tour the US in the future. According to the Musicians Union, 96% of their members surveyed said that increased fees will impact the feasibility of future touring, and 26% said they would make a loss on tour because of the increase.

Data from LIVE, which represents the live music sector, also demonstrated that these proposals will put 50% of all UK tours in the US under threat.

Njoku-Goodwin said: “America is one of the most important global markets for British musicians, and breaking into the States can be critical to a musician or band’s career – but this increase in visa fees risks making a US tour unaffordable for emerging acts.

“These deeply damaging proposals would be catastrophic, both for UK artists and for their American audiences who have a huge appetite for British music. These plans must be scrapped.”

The proposed price hikes would see petition fees for the P visa – which is used by acts to perform temporarily in the US – increase by 251% from $4460 (£385) to $1,615. The O visa – which is used for a longer-term working visit – would increase 260% from $460 to $1,655.

Njoku-Goodwin added: “The UK and US have enjoyed decades of mutually beneficial musical exchange that have strengthened our special relationship and brought huge social, cultural and economic benefits. We should be making it easier for musicians to tour the States, not harder.

“We call on ministers to urgently raise this issue with their US counterparts and work with them to avoid an outcome that would be mutually detrimental to both our countries.”