State of the Situation Information for Those Working With Canadian Artists Crossing the US Border

Matthew Covey, Tazmidat

For those working with Canadian Artists crossing the US border here are some tips of what you, your clients (and their tour manager) should know to be updated on the latest processing and crossing considerations:

  • The Vermont Service Center is currently taking roughly four months to regular process P1, P2, P3 and O1 visas. The California Service Center is processing more around a month. Premium  Processing at both centers remains around 15 days.
  • Artists need to understand that they are generally allowed to perform in the U.S. without a visa at bona fide industry showcases. A bona fide industry showcases is a performance where the principal purpose that the audience is in attendance is not for the sake of being entertained, but for the sake of considering employing the artist at a future date. Performing for free does not obviate the visa requirement. BUT it is very important that the artist understand why they don’t need a visa, because if they cannot explain this to the CBP officer who inspects their passport, they will probably be denied entry.
  • In recent months we are seeing the Vermont Service Center increasingly receptive to approving longer term visa durations.

If you need help you can reach out to:

  • TamizdatAVAIL Hotline is a free hotline that provides performing arts professionals with urgent legal assistance regarding U.S. visa issues. Intended to augment ArtistsFromAbroad, we seek to provide assistance to non-attorneys who are attempting to navigate the visa process without counsel, have already filed a petition, but have run into a problem with CIS or DOS. We will not help prepare petitions, and we will not be helping people who have retained an attorney. It is staffed by lawyers and closely supervised law students. For more information see
  • TamizdatAVAIL also collects information about problems in the artist visa process, does a legal analysis of the problems and drafts recommendations to relevant government institutions toward policy and procedure reform and improved best practices. If an artist has had a problem with the U.S. visa system, we want to hear about it. The easiest way to report the problem is through our “Tell Your Story” form.