Musician visas for The USA – time for change?

Louder Than War to meet UK culture minister about the issue…

The special relationship between the UK and the USA has been the backbone of international post war pop culture. The shared influences and flow of ideas and music has been crucial to one of the biggest industries in the world let alone the huge pool of creativity.

This flow is currently being hampered by the unworkable and expensive work visa situation for British bands getting into the USA. It’s a situation that is becoming expensive and unworkable and has resulted in musician and Goldblade frontman John Robb teaming up with Labour MP Kerry McCarthy and backed by the UK music industry and a lot of media interest to try and find a solution.

This week they are meeting Ed Vaizey the Government Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries to try and find a way that the government can throw it’s weight behind a change to this system that is seriously hampering every British band’s creativity and right to work.

In the past few years the American visa situation has tightened up and become far more expensive to the point that we have a situation were getting a British group into America can cost up to £2700 and that’s not counting travel and accommodation expenses for band’s located outside London who have to travel for the 8 in the morning London based American Embassy interview.

The forms that have to be filled in are very difficult and lots of the money has to be spent on an American agency processing the forms. There have been cases of slack form filling by these agencies causing more problems and lots of time delays in getting the visas that have meant endless examples of British bands, some very high profile, having to reschedule or cancel tours in the last year.

However for American bands coming to the UK the situation is far cheaper and easier to work and a more balanced approach by both sides would be a fairer and more workable answer.

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