Arts Advocacy Update
On September 29, the president issued a proclamation designating October 2023 as National Arts and Humanities Month. The current proclamation builds on prior presidential efforts to support the arts and humanities by reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and directs federal agencies to collaborate with the NEA and the NEH on joint initiatives to promote and advance the arts and humanities. OPERA America encourages its members and allies to engage their local communities on the creative, socio-emotional, educational, and economic importance of the arts and cultural sector.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Establishes New Filing Location for O and P Petitions; Awaiting March 2024 Decision on Proposed Rule to Increase Petition Fees
Please note that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an update concerning a change of locations for filing O and P visa petitions. As of October 1, 2023, Form 1-129 petitions should be filed at the Texas Service Center for O and P classification approval. O and P petitions used to be filed at California and Vermont Service Centers, depending on where the primary petitioner was located. There is a two-month grace period (until December 1, 2023) for petitioners if they have already sent their petitions to the service centers in California or Vermont. Please note any petitions postmarked on or after December 1 that are sent to the wrong location will be rejected. The Artists from Abroad website is a great resource for various international artistry issues and provides guidance concerning filing visa petitions at various USCIS service centers.
OPERA America is an active member of the Performing Arts Visa Working Group (PAVWG) that engages the U.S. Department of State (State Department) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concerning various performing arts visa issues. OPERA America is anxiously waiting on the final outcome of the proposed rule issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in January 2023 to significantly increase visa petition fees, including O and P artist visa applications, filed by U.S. petitioners and other policy changes. The DHS will announce its final decision concerning the proposed rule in March 2024.
DHS accepted public comments concerning the proposed rule until March 2023. OPERA America is a signatory on joint comments submitted by the PAVWG urging USCIS to not raise its fees and to improve the petition processing times and address current backlogs. Joint comments also explain the severe economic harm these proposals would inflict upon a sector that is still recovering from the pandemic. Submitted public comments to the federal agency can be reviewed here. OPERA America encourages its members to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators through its action alert to urge that the DHS withdraw its proposed rule that will adversely impact the ability to bring international artists to the United States.