House Approves Artist Visa Act!
Today, April 1, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to improve the artist visa process.  The “Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act” (HR 1312) is sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and 10 other bipartisan leaders, and would improve the reliability, efficiency and affordability of the artist visa process.

The legislation would require the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to treat as a Premium Processing case, free of any additional charge, any arts-related O and P visa petition that it fails to process within 30 days.  The vote was taken under a process called “suspension of the rules,” which resulted in a successful voice vote, so no recorded vote was taken. .  Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Dan Lungren (D-MA), and Lamar Smith (R-TX) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in support of the ARTS Act while Rep. Steve King (R-IA) spoke in opposition of the bill.
The next step is for the legislation to be approved by the U.S. Senate.  A similar bill, S. 2178 has already been introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).  We will keep you apprised of the progress of the legislation in the Senate.  We are told that the legislation has a greater chance of passage by letting it move through the legislative process without “public” fanfare. 

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