Touring the U.S. just became 42% more expensive for international artists

Bad news to anyone living outside the United States who was hoping to tour here in the coming year(s): The price of admission just went up in a big way.

I kid, but in all seriousness there is some depressing news on the financial front for international artists. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a series of fee increases for immigration applications and petitions. One of those increases applies to petitions for nonimmigrant workers, otherwise known as a Form I-129, which are required for musicians, artists, actors, athletes, and others who travel to the United States to work. The new increases change the cost for one of these petitions from $325 USD per act to $460 USD per act, a 42% increase. Tour managers, roadies, sound guys, and anyone else traveling with their band will have their own forms and fees to pay as well.

The new policy goes into effect beginning December 23 of this year and as you can imagine a lot of people around the globe are not too happy about the change. Billboard actually spoke with with a representative from the Canadian Federation of Musicians by the name of Liana White, who said “A fee surge of this kind adds an additional and unacceptable financial burden on our members.”

As many of you no doubt know already, touring for a band on the rise is an expensive affair. Most live show to show, depending on merch sales and good turnouts in order to make it to the next town, let alone keep food in their stomachs. A price hike of any kind makes meeting those basic needs even more difficult than it already is, and it’s not hard to imagine the added costs being too much for certain artists to bare.

There does not seem to be any kind of appeal to these hikes taking place at this time, but that could change in the weeks ahead. 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.