Visa for Amy?
February 13, 2008 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I read that Amy Winehouse was denied a visa to come to the US for the Grammy's, so she had to perform via satellite. But, since she's a UK citizen, wouldn't she be covered under the US Visa Waiver Program? Why did she need to apply for a visa before coming to the US?
posted by bluefly to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total)
 
I believe it was because of her drug-use history.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:30 AM on February 13, 2008


You can't participate in the visa waiver program if you have ever been arrested. You don't even need to be charged or convicted.

And it's the "Grammys," not the "Grammy's."
posted by grouse at 5:33 AM on February 13, 2008


I thought they granted her one at the last minute? But it was too late.

old AP article: Amy Winehouse is appealing the rejection of her visa application, which was denied under U.S. immigration rules regarding the "use and abuse of narcotics," a senior State Department official said Friday.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:34 AM on February 13, 2008


The singer's spokesman, the US Embassy in London and the State Department in Washington declined to comment on why Amy's visa application was rejected.

My guess is that she'd be coming to the US to work, which would require a visa, not as a tourist, which is what the waiver program is about.
posted by gimonca at 5:34 AM on February 13, 2008


Gimonca has it. From what I understand, the US visa waiver scheme does not allow certain classes of worker (eg journalists and musicians) to come to the States to work. So if you're a musician visiting the States to play a festival, you need to get a temporary work permit, and if you're a journalist planning to cover a story you'll similarly need the right documentation.

On top of this, as Grouse says, the visa waiver requires you to fill in a form saying that you are not a drug abuser, which is clearly not something Amy Winehouse would be able to fill in (with a straight face). I believe it used to prevent people who had ever been a member of the Communist Party from entering, too.
posted by skylar at 5:39 AM on February 13, 2008


Inside this page, couple of links from the one in the initial post, are several of the drug-related clauses for denying a visa.
posted by gimonca at 5:41 AM on February 13, 2008


My guess is that she'd be coming to the US to work, which would require a visa, not as a tourist, which is what the waiver program is about.

Actually, the visa waiver program is for business or tourism for < 90 days. Thanks for the answer grouse. It's interesting that the US state dept. website talks about being denied for having a criminal conviction, but not simply for being arrested.
posted by bluefly at 5:44 AM on February 13, 2008


what the waiver program is about

primarily about
posted by gimonca at 5:46 AM on February 13, 2008


Dario Fo is a notable example of someone being denied entry for being a Communist.

In the state.gov page linked above, it's mentioned that anyone "who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to be a drug abuser or addict, is inadmissible". This doesn't appear to require an arrest.

(One could derail into all sorts of interesting side discussions at this point, but that could drift away from the question.)
posted by gimonca at 5:55 AM on February 13, 2008


Actually, the visa waiver program is for business or tourism for

But not for musicians coming to perform. She would have needed a P visa if she were performing at the Grammys even if she had never been arrested.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:11 AM on February 13, 2008


Is it specifically musicians? Or where she is getting paid?

(I think grouse is correct)

On the many, many times I come in and out of the US, they quiz me every now and then in great detail about who exactly owns the cars that I am responsible for (US or Canadian Citizens) and how I am paid and the like. Basically, the distinction seems to be "You can come here on a visa waiver for business, but you can't come here to work."

Because I am paid by a Canadian Company, I am ok. But if my wages came directly from an american driver (I work in motor racing) then I need a temporary work permit. I always interpreted that as if they consider the transaction to occur entirely within american borders, then it's 'work' not 'business'.If it is business, you get paid back home and going is not dependent on you getting paid (ie someone else could have gone - you are representing a company, rather than an individual). I'm not sure how singer's get paid. If they are a self employed person, then they may or may not be ok, if they get paid through their record company in the UK, then it might be different. I think it's more her style of work and how she is paid than her occupation specifically that prevents a VW being used.

For instance, if she was coming to do a charity performance (ie free) then I wonder if VW would be ok. But in this instance, I'd be pretty sure it is her criminal record (she has a conviction already, I think) that means she will have to apply for a proper visa.
posted by Brockles at 6:51 AM on February 13, 2008


she probably went for my old visa, the O-1 extraordinary ability, so that she could work and didn't have to wait in that long H-1B line. you have to prove your merit for this visa and the bar is set pretty high. I'm not surprised she fell afoul of their standards, a lot of people get denied for this one.
posted by krautland at 7:15 AM on February 13, 2008


I know that specifically musicians and journalists require different visas and the visa waiver, even for business, does not cover journalists or musicians when they are working.
posted by skylar at 8:20 AM on February 13, 2008


I still think that the reason for that is "while they are working" rather than 'because they are journalists and musicians'. Because they are working (as opposed to going on business) they need a visa. Their occupation isn't the presiding factor, it's the 'working'.

I'd love to see an example of a staff reporter working for a UK magazine going to the US to interview someone. I'm pretty sure that would be covered under a Visa Waiver. But if they are a freelance reporter, then no. I think the professions complicate it because of how they work.
posted by Brockles at 8:48 AM on February 13, 2008


I'd love to see an example of a staff reporter working for a UK magazine going to the US to interview someone.

Here's nine. You can find many more reports of this sort of thing as well.
posted by grouse at 9:05 AM on February 13, 2008


The US recently changed the visa requirements for performers and their crews. I don't know the exact details but I do know that it is considerably more difficult and expensive than it was a few years ago. Unfortunately this means that a lot of small bands haven't been able to tour the US in recent years and it also makes it harder for people with criminal records to get in.
posted by fshgrl at 9:18 AM on February 13, 2008


I'd love to see an example of a staff reporter working for a UK magazine going to the US to interview someone.
I sat on a plane once next to a junior Daily Mirror journalist (in economy, so she was very junior) who was flying to the States to interview someone. She needed a visa.
posted by essexjan at 9:31 AM on February 13, 2008


I've been a staff reporter on a UK newspaper, and I've flown to the US to interview people, and I've needed a J-visa. I've also seen people being deported at the border - denied entry and stuck back on the plane - for not having one. E3, the computer games show, was the best place for that. Lots of young keen games journos arriving at immigration very proud of their first, soon to be curtailed, foreign assignment.

The club of countries that requires a special class of visas for journalists is a very curious one.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2008


she probably went for my old visa, the O-1 extraordinary ability

More likely a P-2.

Section 212 (a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

Classes of Excludable Aliens - Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the following describes classes of excludable aliens who are ineligible to receive visas and who shall be exclude from admission into the United states...

(2) CRIMINAL AND RELATED GROUNDS.--
(A) CONVICTION OF CERTAIN CRIMES.--
(i) IN GENERAL.-- Except as provided in a clause (ii), any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits acts which constitute the essential elements of--
(I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense), or
(II) a violation of (or a conspiracy to violate) any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)), is excludable...

posted by Pollomacho at 11:01 AM on February 13, 2008


Because they are working (as opposed to going on business) they need a visa. Their occupation isn't the presiding factor, it's the 'working'.

Interesting point. I have a media visa. When I am going purely for vacation, and tell the immigration or airline people this, they get confused and have told me, at various points, either to enter on the visa or on the visa waiver. Thus the confusion in this thread appears at least partly shared by the US government.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:56 AM on February 13, 2008


The journalist issue seems to be, based on the SPJ article, to spring from the fact that journalists have their own special visa program, and thus the waiver program wasn't set up with them in mind. It's called the I-Visa:
The "media (I)" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily who are representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, having the home office in a foreign country.
However, I don't think Amy would qualify for such a visa, since it's pretty clearly geared towards the news, and not entertainment/performance, media. It's sounds like a pretty good ticket if you qualify: 90-month, multiple entry/exit, unlimited stay as long as you continue to qualify.

The type of visa Amy (or any other international performer) would need is a P-1 "Performer" visa. This is reserved for internationally acclaimed performers coming to the U.S. for a specific performance. Looking at the criteria I don't think someone like Amy Winehouse would have a hard time qualifying, except for her drug use which I think can disqualify you from pretty much any type of visa.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:44 PM on February 13, 2008


More likely a P-2

Sorry, yes, P-1. Amy would not need an O-1, but being a Grammy nominee would certainly qualify her, that is if she were not, as they say in the biz, "212 excludable" for her little problem saying "No, No, No".
posted by Pollomacho at 1:43 PM on February 13, 2008


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