Any Canadian musician knows that there comes a time to leave the nest and tour beyond our borders. The most obvious thing to do is get some gigs in the US. But that’s not always easy.
To make into ‘Murica to play paid gigs, you need something called a P2 Visa, which can be obtained by applying through the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. This is where the nightmare begins.
- $325 USD to join the AFM
- $100 CAD for “administrative costs”
- $20 CAD per musician in the band
- $100 CAD for every additional crew member.
It’s common for bands to fork over up to $2000 to get all this paperwork completed. And the US folks like to take their time, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get your visas before your tour starts. I’ve been told that the processing time doesn’t begin when you submit your applications; it only begins when someone takes your paperwork off a pile on a desk and starts going through it. I’ve also been told that none of this is electronic; it’s all old-fashioned paper.
And did I mention that the US claws back 30% of the gross income any Canadian band makes while in the States?
Well, this has to a mutual situation, right? Canada must put American musicians through the same hoops. Nope. As of June 25, 2014, Canada dropped the requirement for work permits for American musicians. We did this because American musicians launched a petition against us asking that we eliminate the red tape. They made a good point–so we did. But in a Trumpian move, the American government hasn’t yet reciprocated.
Time to fight back. There’s a new petition, this time from our side of the border. It demands that the visa/work permit nightmare be removed for Canadian musicians who want to perform in the US. If you’re concerned about this–and as a music fan, you should–sign the petition here.