British Columbia

Work permit fee to increase 42% for Canadian musicians visiting U.S.

Are you ready to rock?! Well, if you're a Canadian musician visiting the U.S., you better get ready to pay up, too.

The U.S., with 10 times Canada's population, is an important destination for many Canadian artists

Many Canadian artists on the west coast make extra money and build their fan bases by playing cities like Seattle. A tour manager in Vancouver says a 42 per cent increase to the cost of a musician's work permit might change that. (Bryce Edwards/Flickr)

The price of touring the U.S. just got a lot more expensive for Canadian musicians.

The cost of a work permit, or visa, that touring artists need in order to play and get paid in the U.S. will go from $325 US up to $460 US per person, a figure one local touring manager says is prohibitive for many bands.

"It plays a part in the overall plan. If you don't think you're going to make enough return on investment for a trip down there, it can play a role in deciding not to go," Dyllan Towle with 604 Records and Light Organ Records told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

The fee applies to each person who is part of an act, including crew and sound technicians, and Towle says the cost isn't the only problem Canadian bands face getting into the U.S., as processing times for the needed P-2 permits have quadrupled over the past two years.

"It's really hard to lock in a tour four months in advance in some cases," he said. "The fluidity of working between the two countries is really off kilter right now."

Towle says the U.S., with 10 times the population of Canada, is an important destination for many Canadian artists hoping to build a fan base.

In a release, the Canadian Federation of Musicians and its parent union on the U.S. side of the border said they have both put in "several months of aggressive lobbying" to prevent the increase.

The unions say they will now focus on pressing U.S. immigration officials to speed up processing times for the permits.

They are advising Canadian musicians thinking of going to the U.S. to apply for work permits by Dec. 19, before the fees go up on Dec. 20.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Visa fee to increase 42% for Canadian musicians visiting U.S.