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APAP Assists Foreign Artists

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Washington -- Citing the increased challenges facing foreign artists and those attempting to present their work, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) has launched Artists from Abroad, a new website designed to aid the performing arts community in navigating through the immigration and taxation processes of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), Department of State, and Internal Revenue Service.

"Arts organizations face a real challenge when bringing international artists into the United States," said Sandra Gibson, president and CEO of APAP. "Wading through the process of obtaining nonimmigrant visas and understanding tax regulations remain the top hurdles to presenting artists from abroad."

Developed in partnership with the American Symphony Orchestra League with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), www.artistsfromabroad.org offers the very latest rules and regulations affecting artists coming into the United States. Downloadable toolboxes offer handy worksheets, forms, and important links, and APAP will offer its members technical assistance.

"The National Endowment for the Arts recognizes the importance of sharing artistic visions among nations and artists," said Dana Gioia, the NEA's chairman. "We are proud to have joined with the APAP and the American Symphony Orchestra League to support the development of www.artistsfromabroad.org."

"It is essential, now more than ever, that American arts organizations facilitate international cultural exchange and stay abreast of changes in governmental policies and regulations with regard to immigration and taxation," added Gibson. "While we work with legislative colleagues and through the Bush administration to effect change, this tool will assist those working to promote global cultural exchange."

APAP and six other national service organizations for the performing arts are working with staff at BCIS to identify the hurdles and to implement change. Members of Congress led by senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Reps. Melissa Hart (R-Penn.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) are working to encourage administrative changes at the BCIS.

Among the changes sought for the visa application process for foreign guest artists are that BCIS process O and P petitions in a maximum of 30 days; update the I-129 application form and instructions which are outdated and inaccurate; permit O and P visa petitions to be filed one year before the proposed date of employment; and implement uniform policies, procedures, and training at BCIS Service Centers.

APAP is a national service and advocacy organization with more than 1,400 members worldwide dedicated to bringing artists and audiences together.

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