Category Archives: Updates

2021 Music Family Scholarship Deadline Extended

MPTF is excited to be EXTENDING the deadline to July 1, 2021.

Here is the link to the application:

https://musicpf.org/scholarship-application/

Here are also a few Q&A’s that members may find helpful.

Q: My child is going to be a junior in college this year, can they still apply?

A: Yes! Any student that is enrolled in higher education for the fall of 2021 is eligible to apply. This includes graduate and PhD programs, as well as trade schools.

Q: I won the scholarship last year, can I still apply?

A: Yes! We welcome anyone who won last year to apply for this scholarship.

Q: My child is not studying music, are they still eligible for this scholarship?

A: Yes! We do not have any restrictions on what the student is studying.

Good luck!!!

 

MPTF Music Family Scholarship 2021

The Music Performance Trust Fund’s 2021 Music Family Scholarship

OVERVIEW A scholarship fund utilizing the assets of the recording industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund (“MPTF”) was established in June 2020 to encourage the children of professional musicians to pursue higher education and to become leaders in their chosen fields. In the second year of such fund, the MPTF intends to grant $100,000 in scholarship funds. Scholarships will be awarded based on the verification of all required information submitted by each candidate and the strength of each candidate’s essay and video submission.

TIMELINE The application deadline is 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at scholar@musicpf.org. Semi-finalists will be selected by August 1, and finalists announced on or about September 1. Recipients will be notified by email and letter.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact scholar@musicpf.org  or https://musicpf.org/scholarship-application/

 

P2 Visa Update – Clarification for musicians returning from the US.

THIS IS NOT AN EXEMPTION LETTER

OIC 50: 2021-0313

Dear Alan Willaert,

Thank you for your correspondence seeking an exemption from the COVID-19 related travel restrictions on behalf of performers travelling to the US for work. Please accept our apologies for our delayed response.

The Government of Canada implemented restrictions, testing requirements and quarantine measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Travel plans could be subject to significant change as new measures come into effect.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is of the opinion that the performers may be exempt from pre-entry or arrival testing, or quarantine requirements. PHAC’s opinion is based on the Emergency Orders as they currently exist.

Additional Information

COVID-19 Testing, Hotel and Quarantine Requirements

The Emergency Order, referred to as Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations (updated April 21, 2021) requires all travellers, regardless of citizenship, to provide proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test result prior to entry into Canada. Upon entry, all travellers are also required to take a test on arrival (at the airport or land border crossing), and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period.

Air travellers, with limited exceptions, must provide evidence of a prepaid, three-night stay at a Government-Authorized Accommodation (hotel) prior to their entry. Travellers need to stay at their reserved accommodation while they await the results of their arrival test, and are also required to pay for their hotel and associated costs for food, cleaning and security. Answers to frequently asked questions about the mandatory hotel stopover can be found here.

There are certain exemptions from testing and quarantine, but these are limited to minimize the spread of COVID-19. As per the Order, the following persons are exempt:

  • Persons who must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment, including critical infrastructure workers (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing), provided they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the first 14 days after their entry to Canada

In order to be exempt upon entry, travellers must demonstrate they are travelling across the border to their normal place of employment (i.e. same company, same work site, etc.) from their residence on a regular basis (i.e. daily, weekly, or following a rotational schedule). Occasional travel to attend meetings or other work-related activities does not meet this group exemption.

Based on this information, the performers may qualify for an exemption from pre-entry or arrival testing, or quarantine requirements, including the three-night hotel stopover, provided they demonstrate the regularity and frequency of their work related travel.

As per this Order, exempt travellers must wear a mask in public settings, even if physical distancing can be maintained. In addition, they must maintain a list of all close contacts during the 14 days post-entry into Canada. If symptoms develop or further guidance is needed, travellers are encouraged to contact their local public health authority.

Please note that travellers do not require a letter of interpretation from PHAC in order to be exempt from Emergency Orders. It is the traveller’s responsibility to demonstrate that they qualify for an exemption from mandatory testing or quarantine measures. Government representatives at the border use the information available at the time of entry to determine what instructions will be provided to a traveller regarding their public health obligations. Further details on documents needed can be found here under the heading “Who is exempt from quarantine”.

Travellers are advised to refer to the following driving or flying to Canada checklists to understand all the travel requirements, and the following Travel web page for additional information related to testing, exemptions, quarantine requirements and ArriveCAN. (https://travel.gc.ca/covid-19-travel.)

We hope that this information assists you in understanding the Government of Canada’s position at this time.

Kind regards,

Emergency Orders and Policy Interpretation Team

Public Health Agency of Canada

phac.emergencyorder-decretdurgencecovid19.aspc@canada.ca

Équipe des décrets d’urgence et interprétation des politiques

Agence de la santé publique du Canada

phac.emergencyorder-decretdurgencecovid19.aspc@canada.ca

 

UPDATE: CFM Meets with Government to Discuss CERB Repayment Letters & Artist Eligibility

The CFM is writing to advise that the House of Commons petition found here: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-3066 , calls on the Government of Canada to retroactively permit self-employed Canadians to apply their gross, pre-tax income before business expenses, when determining their CERB eligibility.  Please share this with your fellow musicians ASAP. The petition closes for signatures January 23, 2021.

USCIS Increases Premium Processing Fee from $1440 to $2500

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will increase fees for premium processing, effective Oct. 19, as required by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, Pub. L. No. 116-159, signed into law on Oct. 1. The USCIS premium processing service allows petitioners to pay an additional filing fee to expedite the adjudication of certain forms, generally within 15 days. The Act included the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, which requires USCIS to establish and collect additional premium processing fees, and to use those additional funds for expanded purposes.

Pub. L. No. 116-159 increases the fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, from $1,440 to $2,500, for all filings (except those from petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, requesting H-2B or R-1 non-immigrant status. The premium processing fee for petitioners filing Form I-129 requesting H-2B or R-1 non-immigrant status is increasing from $1,440 to $1,500. This applies to seasonal Agricultural Workers and Religious Workers)

Any Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 must include the new fee amount. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 with the incorrect filing fee, we will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee. For filings sent by commercial courier (such as UPS, FedEx and DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.

For more information, please visit https://cfmusicians.afm.org/news/uscis-increases-premium-processing-fee or contact Kaitlyn kvleming@afm.org  or Jill jleger@afm.org in our Artist Immigration Department.

Transitioning from CERB to the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The Canada Recovery Benefit will provide eligible workers with $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks for those who have stopped working and who are not eligible for EI, or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in two-week periods.

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/transition.html

P2 Visa Fee Increase on Pause

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prevents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from implementing fee increases and new forms, which were originally planned to go into effect on October 2, 2020. USCIS has acknowledged the injunction but its webpage for the Form I-129 does not yet reflect this news, nor have the new Form I-129O and I-129MISC been released yet. For now, when filing for O and P guest artists and continue to file with the $460 filing fee. CFM petitioners are monitoring the USCIS website for the very latest information and version of forms before completing and submitting a visa petition.

In other USCIS fee news, the signed legislation that ensures the U.S. government is funded through December 11, 2020 included a section that authorizes USCIS to increase and expand the 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 also 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 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.” However, it has long been the experience of arts petitioners that unexpected and lengthy processing delays of regularly filed petitions will necessitate upgrading to PPS.

It’s not yet known when a new PPS fee might go into effect and whether legal challenges may be filed to prevent their implementation. Until USCIS details its plans for increasing PPS fees, petitioners should continue to file the Form I-907 with the current fee of $1,440.

If you have recently submitted a P2 with the new fee – please email Jill Leger & Kaitlyn Vleming – jleger@afm.org  & kvleming@afm.org  (or call Jill in the office Friday, October 2; Kaitlyn on Monday, October 5).

For more info:

https://cfmusicians.afm.org/news/p2-visa-fee-increase-on-pause

https://cfmusicians.afm.org/services/work-permits

Important P2 Visa Update

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee increases effective October 2, 2020.

Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 29th is the DEADLINE to apply under CURRENT FEE ($460USD)

P-Visas $695 USD – recommended processing time 60 calendar days.

Premium Processing $1440 USD (unchanged) – processing time 15 business days.

Large touring ensembles and orchestras of more than 25 performers will be required to remit double the fees noted, and must remit under separate money orders [similar to essential support workers falling under P2-S]

For more details, click HERE and please email Liana White lwhite@afm.org with questions on the fee & administrative changes.

CFM Submission for Federal Pre-Budget Consultations

  • Recommendation 1 (CERB): That the government extend the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) until at least March 31, 2021, but preferably until all crowd prohibitions have been lifted and government allows live performance venues to reopen.

OR: That the government extend the CERB (as above) and restrict the extension to entertainment workers.

AND: That the government extend the CERB (under either of the above scenarios), and increase the $1,000 monthly non-penalized earnings, with a gradual claw-back of benefits, rather than termination of the benefit if the maximum earnings are exceeded.

  • Recommendation 2 (UBI): That the government implement a Universal Basic Income.
  • Recommendation 3 (EI Expansion): That the government expand the Employment Insurance (EI) program to fully include the self-employed, both as contributors and recipients.
  • Recommendation 4 (EI Extension): That the government extend EI Regular Benefits, on a temporary basis, past the maximum claim period by 4-week increments, until such time as government lifts all crowd prohibitions.
  • Recommendation 5 (RRSPs): That the government allow Canadians with Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) accounts to make non-taxable, limited withdrawals and to repay these withdrawals over a defined period.

Respectfully,

Alan Willaert

AFM Vice-President from Canada

Complete submission:

https://cfmusicians.afm.org/uploads/file/2020.07.28%20-%20Pre-Budget%20Consultation%20Submissions.pdf

News release:

https://cfmusicians.afm.org/news/written-submission-for-the-pre-budget-consultations

USCIS P and O Visa Fee Increases

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented fee increases and other changes effective October 2, 2020. These increases have gone through despite AFM’s vast lobbying in opposition to these amendments, the potential of which was announced by USCIS in December 2019.

The new fee for a P2 (and all categories of P Visa) will be $695 USD, and $705 USD for O Visas. At this time, the recommended processing time is still 60 calendar days.

The Premium Processing fee of $1440 remains unchanged, but the processing time has increased from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.

In addition to the fee increase, there is now a 25-person cap per petition. Therefore, large touring ensembles and orchestras comprised of more than 25 performers will be required to file more than one petition, along with the appropriate per petition fee.

USCIS did issue responses to the various lobbying efforts in opposition to the above changes. In summation, USCIS has stated that while they do not wish to unduly place financial and other constraints on performing arts workers, they cannot provide preferential treatment to one sector, which would place additional burdens upon other sectors as a result.  With respect to the O Visa now carrying a higher fee than the P Visas, and capping the number of musicians, the USCIS response is O Visas and large entourages, respectively, require more time and resources to process.

In spite of these recent changes, the AFM maintains its commitment to continued lobbying efforts to implement improvements benefiting musicians and all arts & culture workers.

For more info: https://cfmusicians.afm.org/news/uscis-p-and-o-visa-fee-increases and https://cfmusicians.afm.org/services/work-permits