Dear AFM Local 406 Members:
You should have all received the Special Announcement email on February 19, 2014 from AFM Local 406. In response to the comments made by Local 406 on obtaining temporary work permits to perform in the United States I asked Liana White, Executive Director of CFM, to prepare the following information in response to those specific comments.
Sincerely & fraternally,
Alan Willaert, Vice President from Canada
Canadian Musicians in the USA:
THE TRUTH ABOUT OBTAINING U.S. TEMPORARY WORK PERMITS
When it comes to foreign musical artists performing in the United States it is the American Federation of Musicians which is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] recognized stakeholder and peer organization. AFM’s involvement in US immigration matters for musicians is not limited to petitioning for the P2 classification. Therefore, even when AFM is not the petitioner of a work permit, petitions for all classifications of temporary work permit for foreign musical artists must still go through the USCIS mandated AFM consultation process. If the mandatory peer consultation letter is not attached to the petition at the time of filing with USCIS they automatically contact the AFM. Likewise, stage actors require a mandatory peer consultation letter from Actors Equity, film actors from SAG-AFTRA, technical workers from IATSE, choral performers [solely vocals, no instruments] from AGMA, and so on.
AFM members are not charged a fee but non-members must pay $250-$300 USD to AFM for the mandatory consultation. The consultation fee is atop the cost of the petition fee [$325 USD minimum] and the cost associated with engaging a professional to prepare and file the petition, such professional services will typically cost $2,500 USD, sometimes more, depending upon the type of permit being petitioned for.
Providing this service is not quick and easy nor financially lucrative for a not-for-profit organization and union. There are many administrative expenses, one example of which is the cost to send daily couriers to USCIS, which AFM spends over $20,000 on annually. The AFM’s administration fee merely off-sets the vast administrative costs incurred by the AFM – the AFM rarely breaks even in an effort to keep the cost to members as low as possible.
If Local 406 has financial difficulty in meeting its bargaining obligations as mandated under Québec Provincial Status, they will find it even more financially straining to absorb all of the administrative costs and processing fees associated with this type of service.
There are guidelines and criteria to meet under each US temporary work permit classification, therefore, one cannot just obtain any classification of permit desired. To be a successful petitioner, as AFM/CFM has been for the last 30+ years, one needs to know the US immigration system well. It’s easy for anyone to say they can do the paperwork, but can they actually produce the most important piece of paper to the process – the Approved work permit? If you would like more detailed information on the various classifications of US work permits, please email Liana White email@example.com , for English services and Fatima Gueye firstname.lastname@example.org for French services.