Advocacy Update on COVID Relief, Funding for the Federal Government, Foreign Guest Artist Visas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2020

CONTACT: Johanna Tschebull

COVID19 Relief Negotiations Update
As of October 2, negotiations between U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue, aiming to provide more pandemic relief to businesses, nonprofit organizations, states, local governments, schools, families, and individuals. Sticking points continue to be the amount of funding for state and local governments, the amount for a federal enhanced unemployment benefit, and provisions concerning liability shields for businesses, nonprofit organizations, and schools.

On October 1, The U.S. House passed a second version of its Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act totaling $2.2 trillion. The first version of the HEROES Act that passed in May totaled $3.4 trillion. The White House recent counteroffer totaling $1.6 trillion extended the federal enhanced unemployment benefit, extended and expanded the Paycheck Protection Program, and provided billions in funding for state and local governments.

Dance/USA continues to engage with the U.S. Senate to urge immediate action to provide more pandemic relief. Amy Fitterer, Dance/USA Executive Director signed onto a powerful letter by 38 chief executive officers, presidents, and executive directors of major nonprofit organization across the nation urging Congressional leadership to immediately act to provide more pandemic relief. The letter was a major factor for both political parties coming back to the negotiation table starting the last week in September. Dance/USA also encourages its members and other stakeholders to utilize its current action alert to engage their Congressional delegation to urge immediate action.

President Signs Stop-Gap Legislation to Continue to Fund Federal Government
The President signed Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act (H.R. 8337) on October 1 to continue to fund the federal government at FY2020 levels until December 11. The new fiscal year (FY2021) began on October 1. Congress will reconvene after the November elections for a lame-duck session to consider and pass a permanent FY2021 appropriations bill to fund the federal government for the rest of FY2021. Dance/USA will be actively pushing for increased appropriations for all federal arts-related agencies, programs, and initiatives, including the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. More information about federal appropriations for arts-related programs and initiatives can be found on the Dance/USA website.

Foreign Artist Visa Update - Federal Judge Grants Temporary Injunction; Increased Fees Contained in Stop-Gap Legislation 
A federal judge in Northern California granted a motion for a preliminary injunction concerning the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rule, effective October 2, which would significantly increase visa petition fees and provides for other policy changes, including new versions of petition forms. Unfortunately, recently passed legislation to temporarily fund the federal government at FY2020 levels until December 11 contains a section (Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act) that authorizes USCIS to increase and expand Premium Processing Service (PPS) fees for certain immigration-related applications. In most cases, the current $1,440 fee for Premium Processing is now authorized to increase to $2,500 and the O and P guest artist visas would fall into this category. The bill authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish and collect a premium fee for “any other immigration benefit type that the Secretary deems appropriate for premium processing,” and premium fees may be adjusted every two years. The bill also directs the Secretary to “develop and implement processes to ensure that the availability of premium processing, or its expansion to additional immigration benefit requests, does not result in an increase in processing times for immigration benefit requests not designated for premium processing or an increase in regular processing of immigration benefit requests so designated.” It is unclear when the increased PPS fee will be effective and whether legal challenges may be filed to prevent implementation. Dance/USA advises petitioners to continue to file current forms for both O and P visas along with appropriate fees in place prior to the final rule as well as file the current I-907 form with the current fee of $1,440 for premium processing. Further information can be found on the Artists From Abroad website

Contact Congress about COVID relief here!

About Dance/USA
Propelled by our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world, Dance/USA will amplify the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive.

Established in 1982, Dance/USA champions an inclusive and equitable dance field by leading, convening, advocating, and supporting individuals and organizations.  Dance/USA’s core programs are focused in the areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation. Learn more about Dance/USA at danceusa.org