The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department recently announced an extensive series of fee increases for all foreign immigration applications and petitions. Beginning December 23, nonimmigrant workers looking to enter the US will be required to pay a fee of $460, up 42% from the previous cost of $325. This I-129 form applies to all touring musicians, managers, roadies, stage hands and more who plan to stop in the United States.
On their website, the USCIS explains that the fee increases (coming as the first in six years) are “…necessary to recover the full cost of services provided by USCIS. These include the costs associated with fraud detection and national security, customer service and case processing, and providing services without charge to refugee and asylum applicants and to other customers eligible for fee waivers or exemptions.”
“This is our first fee increase since November 2010, and we sincerely appreciate the valuable public input we received as we prepared this final rule,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez. “We are mindful of the effect fee increases have on many of the customers we serve. That’s why we decided against raising fees as recommended after the fiscal year 2012 and 2014 fee reviews. However, as an agency dependent upon users’ fees to operate, these changes are now necessary to ensure we can continue to serve our customers effectively. We will also offer a reduced filing fee for certain naturalization applicants with limited means.”
Liana White, executive director for the Canadian Federation of Musicians, described to Billboard the effects of the increase as follows.
“While we recognize that for Canadians the USCIS artist visa process may be more simplified than other musicians seeking to enter the United States under the same permits, however, a fee surge of this kind adds an additional and unacceptable financial burden on our members.”