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NY Times – U.S. Visa Rules Deprive Stages of Performers

April 11, 2012

This morning’s New York Times, page 1, addresses another fallout from September 11th – heightened levels of scrutiny for performers seeking to enter the U.S.

In many cases delays in obtaining visas, arts administrators and immigration lawyers say, are simply the result of a slow and cumbersome bureaucracy. But they point to other cases, especially those involving artists with recognizably Arab or Muslim names. European diplomats and arts administrators say that when they submit visa requests for their orchestras or theater and dance ensembles, any performer with such a name is almost automatically subjected to what is known as “additional administrative processing.”

“It seems to be a question of the names, of anything that sounds like it could belong to a bad guy,” Mr. Ginsburg said. “Ostensibly it is not U.S. policy to profile. But they are looking for other words to describe the same thing.”

Government agencies deny that any such discriminatory policy exists. Homeland Security “strictly adheres to a zero tolerance policy that prohibits profiling on the basis of religion, race or ethnicity,” said Chris Bentley, a spokesman for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services at the department. “Every case is decided individually based on the facts and the law.”

In recent years, immigration attorneys and their clients have become frustrated by lengthy “administrative processing” delays, a euphemism for security checks. An individual who becomes subject to administrative processing must wait weeks, and often months, for the security checks to clear.



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