In Friday’s (7/23) New York Times, Ben Sisario reports, “Addressing years of complaints about slow and inconsistent processing of visa applications for foreign performing artists, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services told arts groups this week that it was making an effort to speed up and improve its visa operations. In a meeting on Tuesday in Washington, at the headquarters of the agency—a division of the Department of Homeland Security—officials said that standard applications for O and P visas, the types most often used by performers and athletes, would be adjudicated within 14 days. In some cases it has taken up to 120 days, arts groups say, with delays and demands for information that can seem arbitrary. ‘What this means is that we are establishing for ourselves and our customers a standard by which our success and failure is to be measured,’ Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of the agency, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. … Artist advocates greeted the news as a positive but incomplete step toward fairness and efficiency in the visa system, which they say has become cumbersome and expensive to navigate, and has sometimes resulted in last-minute changes and cancellations. ‘This to us represents a real breakthrough,’ said Heather Noonan, vice president for advocacy at the League of American Orchestras. ‘We are extremely hopeful that the changes that they have planned will result in improvements for international cultural exchange.’ ” For more complete information from the League on this topic, click here.
Posted July 23, 2010