US Senate passes bill to ease travel for international artists

Ever since the attacks of September 11, 2001, international artists have had a difficult time obtaining visas to visit the United States.

The latest immigration reform bill passed by the Senate should speed up the process significantly, according to The Art Newspaper.

The 1,200-page bill, which offers a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, also requires the government to process artists’ visa requests within one month of their initial filing. Under the current system, artists can wait up to six months for a visa and must pay a fee of $1,225 to receive expedited service.

…The passage of the Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act, part of the immigration bill, “would be huge”, says Tom Finkelpearl, the director of the Queens Museum in New York. The amendment would enable museums to schedule foreign artists to give lectures, teach courses and complete residencies more easily. The Queens Museum’s artists-in-residence, for example, receive only three months’ notice that they have been accepted into the programme and “that’s not a lot of time to get a visa”, Finkelpearl says.

The bill would have a particularly noticeable effect on theater troupes and musical groups going on tour, for whom it can take more than twice as long to obtain a visa as for an individual artist.

The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the bill.