While a post about American policy changes may seem out of place on a site like this, the thought of K-pop concerts here being even more of an expensive clusterfuck than before has motivated me to cover it.
Essentially, Department Of Homeland Security in America has proposed raising fees on visas by over 250% in some cases.
The proposed rate increase would see the filing fees for regularly processed O-type visa petitions increase from $460 to $1,655, an increase of 260%. Processing fees for P-type, including P-2 petitions would rise by 251% from $460 to $1,615.
Fees for ‘premium processing’ of visa requests would remain unchanged at $2,500 under the proposed rule changes.
The mess with Ticketmaster makes things bad enough over here as it is, but this certainly isn’t going to help things in terms of pricing.
And sure, huge acts won’t have as many issues with this, but it could mean smaller acts forgo America entirely due to their margins being slimmer.
In an email to Stereogum alerting us to the situation, Tom McGreevy of Ducks Ltd. wrote, “This is a pretty big deal for bands from other countries, as it’s a significant burden on newer bands especially, but is also something that would impact American audiences in a significant way, as it’s going to discourage an awful lot of bands from touring and taking the first steps in building an audience here.”
As for why this is happening, it basically comes down to USCIS needing funding. It’s actually a real problem that deserves addressing, but as immigration lawyer Tahmina Watson spelled out in her coverage of this issue, passing the buck for this to foreign workers while they waste hilarious amounts of money elsewhere is not anywhere near the best option.
The truth is that USCIS needs the funding desperately. The rules state clearly why the funds are necessary — from backlogs to systemic issues, there are deep problems. In fact, our entire immigration system has been broken for decades, though the general public has become increasingly aware of the growing problems in just the past few years. But the solution is not to charge businesses more and break their backs. This is a problem that Congress must solve.
Yet, because members of Congress are more interested in fighting than fixing the country, USCIS is placing the burden on U.S. businesses and their immigrant workers. The situation is unfair to everyone in the immigration system — including USCIS, businesses, and any individuals trying to get through it.
The problem is too complex to have any simple solutions. We must have comprehensive immigration reform. But in the interim, USCIS should consider having a tiered fee for the I-129 based on the size of the business. If there must be an asylum fee, make it $200 and not $600. Also, USCIS needs to be held accountable for the fees it collects. And lastly, businesses should speak up against these fees and advocate for immigration reform. If there was ever a moment when businesses need to step up their advocacy, now is the time.
Right, the advocacy part.
Well, it’s something K-pop fandoms are particularly well tuned for, which is flooding a site with comments. That’s basically why I’m posting about it now (you can do your part here).
Of course, you don’t just want to spam like “fuck you” or whatever, so feel free to use some of the templates in the other comments already left there, or Jeff Benjamin of Billboard has graciously opened his inbox to those in need of help.
A lot of the time, it feels like we don’t have much of a say over things, so since we could make some impact with this, I think it’s worth a shot to try and prevent the situation here with concerts getting even worse somehow.