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Extreme vetting for musicians entering the county

It has been difficult for international musicians trying to perform in the United States. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, many are denied visas even when they have performances booked at the world’s leading performing arts centers and often conduct educational or cross-cultural classes. These visas are officially referred to as a P-3 visa, which is for “Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program.”

Now it is getting even harder with experts referring to a new approach called “extreme vetting.” These new process often applies to foreign artists who have formerly been approved by the state department.

Supplemental questions for visa applicants

Extreme vetting comes in the form of a DS-5535 of additional questions from the State Department. Rather than taking ten days to process and approve the common application, the supplemental questions can add six to seven months to the approval process. The questions include:

  • List every place you have been outside your country over the last 15 years
  • Include specific details about dates and locations within those countries
  • Provide your unique user name for websites or applications the musician has used to create or share content as part of a public profile over the last five years (including status updates, photos, videos, etc.)

This is troubling on several different levels. Notably, many of these musicians travel extensively for work and may not have kept accurate records 15 years ago. According to the ACLU, there are concerns about personal privacy with no clear boundaries to avoid discriminatory profiling and concerns about free speech – typically visa applications from Muslim countries, Africa and Cuba are singled out, particularly the men.

Get help to face these new challenges

The national security of our country is essential. Nevertheless, the emergence of extreme vetting has become more widespread than initially thought. Those applying for a temporary visa are advised to start the application process as soon as possible to accommodate the lengthy time caused by a DS-5535. While these applications can be filled out by the musicians, attorneys with experienced handling visas are a tremendous help during this process.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber