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Performing at a showcase in the US? ESTA is no longer the way to go.

Further to the recent reports of several musicians invited to perform at South By Southwest (SXSW) having their approved ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) revoked unaccountably by the US authorities days before travel, the Musicians’ Union (MU) and British Underground can no longer recommend using ESTA to enter the United States (US) to perform at any music showcasing event.

The problem continues to frustrate some performers working in the US, with one band recently having their work visas revoked without proper explanation as to why.

We are currently investigating the issues further through the Music Industry Visa Task Force, but until we are able to establish why this happened we must give MU members the following information.

If you are travelling to the US and feel that your performance fits the ‘showcase exception’ then you can apply for a B1/B2 visa or, if performing outside the permitted showcase exception, a P or O visa.  The B Visa is less costly and time consuming than the O or the P visa.

With further US showcase opportunities on the horizon such as Americanafest, A3C and Folk Alliance International, we have no choice but to recommend that any artist invited to perform at a US showcase begin the visa application process soon.

We are aware of the time and cost implications of this, and note that visa costs can be included in applications to the PRSF International Showcase Fund

MU members can approach Viva La Visa for free advice, and will receive a 20% discount if their services are engaged.

If you are looking at showcasing under a B1 Visa it is important that you are able to articulate to the consulate that you are applying for the B1 due to recently reported incidents of unexpected ESTA revocations. You should be prepared to demonstrate that the event at which you are performing is a bona fide industry showcase within the U.S. government’s definition.

Members are reminded that Visa information is subject to change at short notice and urged to contact the MU Live Department for the latest information.

Dave Webster
National Organiser Live Performance
Musicians’ Union

Crispin Parry
British Underground

Published: 13/07/2017
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