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Band Border Bans: How To Avoid Them!

Tough new screening procedures mean musicians travelling to the US should be prepared to be interrogated and have social media and computer gear placed under scrutiny. It may not seem fair but it's part of Trump's new border order.

The new order specifically requires heightened vetting and screening of those “who seek to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis”, meaning that there is going to be even more scrutiny and less forgiveness than ever before with regard to artists attempting to enter the US on visitor visas (B-1/B-2) or through the Visa Waiver Program (“ESTA”), immigration lawyer Brian Taylor Goldstein explains.

 “We are already receiving reports of artists being held and detained for hours upon entering the US to determine whether or not they are performing. Even artists entering as visitors for the purpose of attending a conference or “performing a showcase” are being pulled aside and, in many cases, being refused entry. Artists entering with B- 1/B-2 visas or through the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) are being pulled aside the moment they say that they are “entertainers”, “performers”, or “artists.”

When an individual is held and detained, they are subject to interrogation as well as demands to inspect their cell phones, luggage, and personal items. Any refusals can be grounds for a refused entry, which will then stay on an artist’s record impeding future visas and travel.

Everyone needs to understand and accept that: Artists cannot perform on visitor visas (B-1/B-2) or through the Visa Waiver Program (“ESTA”) regardless of whether or not they are being paid and tickets are sold.

Except in the most narrowly defined circumstances, US immigration law has always defined “work” as it pertains to artists, as any kind of performance. Artists denied entry on the basis of fraud, will have a denied entry on their record, impeding future visas and travel.

Read Goldstein’s Avoiding A World Of Trouble, and NPR offers an explanation as to why Italian band Soviet Soviet was refused entry to play SXSW last week.