World Music: Part 4 of 4 - When in Rome,...NY

In looking through my posts, I realized I never posted this 4th installment about presenting international artists in the United States.

Considering I currently have a brilliant British pianist stranded in Montreal and incapable of traveling over the Vermont/Quebec border to perform for us Friday since the U.S. Consulate in London LOST HIS PASSPORT AND US VISA they were processing, it seemed appropriate (and more constructive than the rant I'd like to post) to finish this series now.

To review the previous installments, visit...

World Music: Part 1 of 4 - Introduction
World Music - Part 2 of 4 - Visa. It's everywhere you want to be! (tm)
World Music - Part 3 of 4. Taxation without Representation

OK, so you, your performer, and their agent have worked diligently for almost 6 months. We’ve competed a USCIS visa petition, received a I-797 approval notice, the artist has visited a U.S. consulate for an interview, photo and biometric fingerprinting, and finally has their shiny new visa affixed to their passport. Now our wonderful performer travels to the States.

Each time a foreign artist seeks entry, they must undergo inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Often, CBP inspectors ask nothing at all, but they have enormous power and discretion to determine whom they will admit. If a CBP inspector decides that an alien is seeking entry in the wrong status, the inspector may detain the alien, deny him/her access to a phone, and put him/her on the next plane back. Worse yet, if the inspector suspects that the alien has committed a fraud or misrepresentation, the inspector has full, unreviewable discretion summarily to exclude that alien from the U.S. for five years. Moreover, aliens who enter the U.S. with visas and then overstay may, in certain circumstances, be relegated to forever obtaining their visas only from their home country consulate.

Applicants should have with them a copy of the underlying USELESS USCIS (sorry, did I say that out loud?) petition as well as the original, or at least a copy, of the I-797 approval notice, whether they have a visa or not. Assuming CBP chooses to admit the alien, it will issue the alien one portion of the white I-94 containing a stamp showing the alien's date of entry, a notation of the classification in which the alien is admitted, and the date until which the alien is admitted.

As crazy as it sounds, once in the U.S., this little white card trumps everything else - including that visa you spent hundreds of dollars and 6 months to obtain. The departure date HAND-WRITTEN (can you believe it) by the CBP on the I-94 is all-important. The artist/alien should be CERTAIN they can read a correct, designated departure date and that they have in fact been admitted in the proper classification before crossing into the U.S.! Once in the states, you must abide by the departure date on the I-94, even if the border agent accidentally transposed numbers in the date, or it otherwise doesn't align with your visa. Do not count on there being exceptions of any kind to this rule, even if it is CBP's fault. Indeed, an overstay of even one day can render the artist subject to another rule, 222g, under which the alien must return to his or her home country consulate to obtain ALL future U.S. visas. For frequent travelers, this can be devastating.

It is also important not to lose the I-94/I-94W (which is usually stapled into the passport, just above a perforation which can separate easily!), not only because it represents an immigration "registration" document that the holder by law must carry at all times, but because it represents the potential proof that the alien departed the U.S. on time. The carriers collect I-94s from departing aliens and send them to USCIS, which then inputs the data into its computer system. If timely departure data for a given alien is missing, the system will show that alien as a possible overstay. If so, CBP inspectors will at some point in the future, often years later, discover that that the arriving alien has a past overstay. In these cases, CBP has been known not just to put the alien into "secondary" inspection, which can cause hours of delay (and great stress), but to handcuff and ship them back immediately, if they cannot prove they did not overstay.

These 4 posts and guidelines hopefully don't scare you away from presenting an international artist...but just offer some advice from the trenches to help recognize and avoid the potential hurdles and make your artist(s) visit a successful one. Again, I refer you to the following resources:


MapleMama said...

All 4 "World Music" installments:

World Music: Part 1 of 4 - Introduction

World Music - Part 2 of 4 - Visa. It's everywhere you want to be! (tm)

World Music - Part 3 of 4. Taxation without Representation"

World Music: Part 4 of 4 - When in Rome,...NY

Vinny said...

Wow. You are smart in ways I didn't even know.

Your university must have been an extraordinary place, filled with the greatest minds of our day. What it must have been like, to sit among them, sharing your extraordinary intellect and assimilating theirs.

Or was it just a party school with fraternities, people with lampshades on their heads, and non-stop Euchre games?

The Contessa said...

Wow - you've come a long way baby!!!

No more incoming freshman tours for you!

Outstanding job! Very informative!

MapleMama said...

The alma mater lives on in us all!
Thanks for chiming in you two!