The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took a step backward when they announced future price hikes that will lead to the United States raising prices for touring artists. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton fight for the presidential seat, other parts of the government are making it harder for its people to enjoy live music. Recently the USCIS pushed through new requirements for fees in applying for citizenship and other immigration benefits.
However, the increases are not without reason, as their official announcement included the statement:
USCIS is almost entirely funded by the fees paid by applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits. The law requires USCIS to conduct fee reviews every two years to determine the funding levels necessary to administer the nation’s immigration laws, process benefit requests and provide the infrastructure needed to support those activities.
It stands to reason that without enough funding some prices will have to go up. However, the increase specifically to form I-129 seems like a giant leap backward. The form is necessary for non-immigrants to earn money in the United States. As such, the form not only concerns artists but, athletes and foreign performers alike.
As things stand now, it has always been difficult for our favorite groups from Japan to venture stateside. The main issue is funding. Even ambitious bands like Vamps are unable to sell out every venue they book in their overseas tours. Because of this, the amount spent poses a huge risk. Thinking of smaller bands and the previous $340 per crew member, it stands to reason that the new 42% increase to $460 will be keeping out a lot more bands than before.
Common sense contradicts this recent decision. If an artist sites cost as a reason for not touring, it makes more sense to lower the prices. The act of lowering prices would promote business. In retrospect, when a band comes to town, a multitude of businesses see profits. The venue, the ticket company, transportation, restaurants and even hotels. Artists draw in consumers, and consumers spend, and spending stimulates the economy. It is as certain as death that consumer spending equates to taxes.