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Foreign performers having trouble securing U.S. visas

One of the greatest things about art and music is getting to watch performers from other parts of the world. In fact, some of America's most beloved performers haven't been American at all. Instead, many have been artists from other countries who come to the United States to perform and win over American hearts.

However, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it has become more difficult for performers from other countries to bring their talents to the United States. According to immigration attorneys and booking agents, this is because securing visas for foreign artists and performers is now much more complicated than it once was.

An immigration attorney who handles artists' visas said that although the same visa standards exist, the federal government has become much more strict over the past couple years about who they let into the country to perform, even with well-known artists. He said the feds have made "everything more restrictive."

One example of this involves a flamenco performer from Spain who was set to give a concert at the Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center. When the performer went to pick up his visa, he learned that his name was on the "no fly" list. It turned out that the man shared a name with a person who was deemed a threat and he was eventually cleared, but by this time, the show had been cancelled.

Unfortunately, incidents like this have caused some foreign artists to decide not to come to the United States to perform. In fact, statistics from the Homeland Security Department show that requests for standard performer's visas declined by close to 25 percent between 2006 and 2010. During the same period, the number of rejected visas increased.

Hopefully, with media attention on this issue, the federal government will soon realize that depriving the American people from the culture and art of other countries is unjust.

Source: New York Times, "U.S. Visa Rules Deprive Stages of Performers," Larry Rother, April 11, 2012

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