United States President, Donald Trump, has issued an executive order that extends his visa ban to December 31, 2020. The ban restricts the issuing of temporary work visas to foreign nationals who usually travel to the USA to fill low income as well as specialized vacancies. The types of visas that are currently banned include H1-B, H2-B, J-1, J-2, and L-2.
The President’s stated reason is the high unemployment rate facing US citizens due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wants the available jobs to be given to US citizens, but critics have said the Visa bans will have devastating consequences for the US economy.
Other visa categories such as E-1, E-2, O-1 and the P-1, which is commonly used by entertainers, are unaffected by the proclamation. Even though the P-1 visa has not been listed among the banned visa types, members of the dancehall industry are wary.
In an interview with The Star, Tara Playfair-Scott expressed that she was not surprised by the President’s move.
The powerhouse artiste manager, public relations, and marketing guru said that “This has been coming and I assume he has been working his way towards this since there was an extreme slowdown in the processing of work permits for artistes and for persons who fall into the skilled categories.”
“If you speak to entertainers who have applied for work permits in the last year to two, they can tell you outright that there has been a marked difference. Even in paying expedited fees, your process is not expedited. It takes months to get a response for approval or even to say that they need more information,” Playfair-Scott said.
Manager of Grammy-nominated dancehall artiste Devin Di Dakta, and booking agent for I Waata and Intence, Shelly-Ann Curran also had her piece to say. She told The Star “I’m not really seeing our artistes visas on the list but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been shutting us out, and will continue trying to do so.” She stated that “Some people wait a year or two years only to be granted three months so just like the rest of the entertainment industry.”
Both Playfair- Scott, and Curran both agreed that now is the time for members of the local entertainment industry to reach out to other markets as there are many untapped territories that have a love for dancehall and reggae music.
According to Playfair-Scott, “I think the virus has shown a lot of people in a lot of areas not just entertainment that ‘Hey you, it’s tough to put all your eggs in one basket’ because at any given moment that basket can be snatched and your eggs fall to the ground. You have to try and diversify as much as possible.”
Curran also encouraged, “Reggae and dancehall music stretches past every border and this is the perfect time for our artistes to begin to look and tap into other markets like Latin America, the wider Caribbean, and Africa. The world is a big place.”
With the unpredictability of the US President’s next move, the entire music industry definitely needs to start putting contingency plans in place.