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A final H-1B rule is under White House review. The Supreme Court hears a pair of cases that could significantly affect immigration. And a look at the impact of immigration filing fee increases on touring artists and musicians.
Get this news and more in the new episode of BAL’s podcast, the BAL Immigration Report, available on Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts or on the BAL news site.
This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.
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It’s Jan. 18 , and this is your BAL Immigration Report.
“Yes, of course, there are the Taylor Swifts of the world, but most artists are not Taylor Swift. Most musicians that are touring around the United States are playing small venues and are making every last penny count when they’re putting their budget together to make their tour plan.”
—Gabriel Castro, BAL Senior Associate
It’s been a busy week in H-1B news. First, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will soon launch new online tools for H-1B petitioners. These tools will allow petitioners to file Forms I-129 and I-907 online, as well as give companies the ability to allow multiple individuals, including legal representatives, to collaborate on H-1B registrations and applications.
Second, a regulation to modernize the H-1B program was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget. The text of the rule is not yet available, but OMB review is the final step in the regulatory process before publication. It is not yet clear whether the final rule will be limited to changes to the H-1B registration selection process or will include provisions that would make substantive changes to H-1B eligibility.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a pair of cases that could have a big impact on immigration policies and procedures. The cases in question — Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce and Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo — challenge the court’s decades-old Chevron doctrine, which requires courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of statutes that are not clear or silent on the question at issue.
Immigration attorneys are watching the cases closely. While they do not involve immigration on their face, they could have a significant impact on immigration litigation procedures in the future. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June. For more information on these cases and for other immigration developments to watch for this year, visit BAL.com for recently published expert analysis, “Immigration outlook: Five questions for 2024.”
Conversation with Gabriel Castro, BAL senior associate: Impact of immigration fee increases on artists and entertainers
BAL Immigration Report: Emmys, Grammys and Oscars. It’s award season. In this week’s spotlight, we look at the impact of immigration fee increases on artists and entertainers — specifically, musicians. As we reported on last week’s podcast, a final rule to raise U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services fees is now under White House review. The final fee levels are not yet available, but under a 2023 proposal, the cost of petitions for the visa categories used most often by artists and entertainers would increase dramatically. Gabriel Castro, a BAL senior associate and head of the firm’s Los Angeles office and Sports and Entertainment practice, joined the BAL Immigration Report this week to discuss the situation.
Castro: Touring artists and entertainers are typically going to be seen in one of two visa categories. One is going to be either the P, under performance artists, either a performing arts group or a unique cultural performing artist, or under the O-1 as an artist of extraordinary ability. These are the two most common types of visa categories for touring artists. You see this very commonly in the music industry for artists performing all across the United States.
BAL: Under the 2023 proposal, fees for O and P petitions would increase from $460 to $1,015 — and that’s before an additional $600 is added to fund humanitarian immigration programs.
Castro: The proposed increase is actually quite substantial under these two categories. We’re seeing sometimes double or triple of over $1,000 in increased fees for both the O-1 and the P-1. When you throw in the additional asylum fee that’s going to be included in all employment-based visa applications, this is going to be substantial increase and burden on these artists, on these management companies and on anyone in the touring industry.
BAL: Castro says most artists and entertainers are operating on a tight budget.
Castro: Yes, of course, there are the Taylor Swifts of the world, but most artists are not Taylor Swift. Most musicians who are touring around the United States are playing small venues and are making every last penny count when they’re putting their budget together to make their tour plan. Now, when you’re increasing the cost for these visas this substantially, this is going to have a huge negative effect on the industry. You’ve already seen it with the fees as they are: Multiple touring artists have canceled their tours or other U.S. events because of the complexities, the delays, the fees, all of it with the U.S. immigration system. What we would love to see from U.S. immigration is a process that makes it easier for these artists to come to the United States, and instead what they’re doing now is making additional hurdles, increasing the funds necessary to come to the U.S. And ultimately, you’re going to see a drop in talent that’s coming over.
BAL: As Castro noted in an interview with the Dallas Observer last summer, it’s not just artists and musicians who are impacted when events are canceled. It’s entire communities — everything from restaurants and bars to concession stands and parking. And that’s without even mentioning the fan experience.
Castro: I remember when I was still in grade school, I went and saw this Mexican rock band, a pretty famous one called Maná with my dad, who was from Mexico. And I remember just being in the arena, getting that live experience was something that today created who I am as a person, not just as a lawyer. I saw this great live show, and I think about this band, and whether the additional complexities of the U.S. immigration system would affect their own tours, would affect the tours of the bands that opened for them that night or the ones that they would call peers in the industry. I think this is a real question and something that we should consider when we make these policy changes and policy choices is, what are we trying to accomplish in this industry and what are we trying to accomplish with these changes? And I don’t think USCIS said, “Why don’t we create policy that brings less musicians to the United States?” I don’t think that’s what they were going for. From our standpoint, we understand that it was 2016 when USCIS last increased fees. They’re going to have to cover their costs in some way, but to see such a drastic change so fast is the big shock factor for a lot of these artists, a lot of these touring companies, that it’s just going to be a big jump, and that jump is what makes it so scary.
In France, the government has launched a new Olympic consulate system to process visa applications for this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic games. The platform will allow French authorities to process visa applications entirely online.
This approach is intended to streamline visa processing to ensure that athletes, coaches, officials, media and other attendees don’t encounter delays in arriving to the games. Other travelers may experience longer wait times for appointments and processing during this time.All visa applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to avoid delays.
In Japan, authorities announced special procedures will be in place for foreign nationals impacted by the Noto Peninsula earthquake. The measure pertains to foreign nationals who have overstayed their immigration authorization and are unable to apply for extensions at their regional immigration bureau.
These individuals may instead apply at the bureau that has jurisdiction over their current temporary residence. Japanese officials said that more than 72,000 foreigners live in the quake-affected prefectures.
Follow us on X, and sign up for daily immigration updates. We’ll be back next week with more news from the world of corporate immigration.
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