by ben hill
We welcome artistic projects from all nations to participate in the Fringe. As international travellers face more red tape than those in the States, we have put together some information that should help you along.
International artists have two methods to cross the border to participate in the Fringe. Each has its advantages and disadvantages; study this information closely to determine what’s the best route for you.
Option One: The International Competition
Entering the country under the auspices of participating in our International Competition is the easiest route through customs. Every year, the Hollywood Fringe hosts a competition amongst all international shows for the finest show of the festival as judged by the fringe community.
Here’s how it works…
Fringe community members who have contributed time, energy, funds, or participation to the Fringe are sent a ballot on the last day of the Fringe. It includes their favorite show across a number of vectors (more information coming soon).. During the awards ceremony, the winner is chosen and provided with a statuette.
- You can travel to the US on a (free) tourist visa
- Little to no paperwork required
- No need for an American petitioner to sponsor you
- Your venue can choose to reimburse you for travel expenses
- You cannot collect box office for your shows
- You cannot work for any financial gain in the US
- You are subject to all other restrictions of a travel visa
To summarize: This route makes it easy to get into the country but you cannot keep any revenue from your show’s attendance; that would be kept by your hosting venue. Some venues may be interested in providing you free rent (and 0% of box office) to help keep your costs down. Talk to your venue(s) to see if this is an option.
You will need a letter of invitation and a print-out on the nature of the competition. Please contact Fringe Support to request them. Customs may ask you to provide such evidence after you land.
Option Two: Work Visas
If you are interested in coming to the Fringe with the intent to make money and perhaps work in other outlets across the country your challenge is steeper: You will need to obtain a work visa. This can be a substantial and expensive endeavor and requires lots of paperwork, bureaucracy, and the lingering chance your visa will be denied.
Obtaining a visa is a multi-step process…
- Determine the visa you need. Usually this is between O-1 and P-3 for artists.
- Find an American petitioning company who will file the visa and “sponsor” you
- Obtain and pay for a consult letter from an American union approving your visit (this can be your venue)
- Complete and pay the filing fee for a i-129 form along with supportive evidence
- Wait for several months for a reply
- If approved, file another form with the Department of State to obtain your visa.
On average, this process can cost upwards of 700 USD per visa. Depending on the visa this may be per-person or per-company.
- You can keep all the money you earn through your box office
- You may be able to extend your stay to participate in other projects in the USA
- Non-refundable government fees and long/complex bureaucratic forms
- You may be turned down by the US government
- It may take many months before you know the ruling
For much more information on this process please refer to the Artists From Abroad website – http://www.artistsfromabroad.org/. In many cases it’s in your best interest to contract a lawyer to help you through the process.