I was stunned to read today that the Halle Orchestra, founded in 1858 and based in my home town (city) of Manchester, has canceled a planned US tour because it decided that the enormous cost of obtaining visas (because of lost work days due to the need to visit the US embassy in London for personal interviews) meant that the visit was not sensible from an economic point of view. I have heard similar stories about academics deciding not to try to come to the US because it is too complicated.
Manchester is four to five hours from London. And these same musicians could have tourist visas without question and without interviews. But if they’re going to play for us (which I suppose involved some payment somewhere), they each have to have personal interviews.
And these idiotic visa policies make us better off how exactly?
NPR had the same kind of observation about the current visa and immigration laws for “legal” work status in the USA. Some expert, whose name escapes me, said that the US would be better served in fixing the problem with legal immigration than making a bunch of new regulation on the matter of illegal immigration.
Is this policy some holdover from the cold war, when we let Soviet musicians into the country, but we had to make sure they weren’t spies?
I rarely write comments but I had to jump in on this –
For the university I work at I have been helping to process some travel expense reimbursements for visiting foreign academics, and I am still stunned at the number of forms and level of complexity.
I think the cost-benefit trade-off is horrific – a modicum of greater security in exchange for blocking off exactly the kind of cultural exchanges that would be most helpful at this point.