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26 January, 2004

More on US Immigration

The Prog Palace has an interesting interview with Martin Orford, of IQ and Jadis.  They're not bands I particularly like, but the interview offers some insight into the experience of 'part-time' bands being prevented from working in the USA.  The relevant section is buried about halfway through the transcript, so I've reproduced it here; I've edited out the interviewer's side of the conversation, without distorting the context.

Interviewer: You may have already partially answered this, but why donít we see IQ more often in the States? Or Jadis as well?

Martin: Well. Because US Immigration wonít let us in. Weíre not allowed to come in. They donít like overseas bands. They say it takes the work away from US bands. If you turn up to a US airport with a guitar, theyíll put you on the next plane back home. The only people that manage to do it are the Scandinavian bands, and theyíve got sponsorships from their own governments. The only way that you can play the States is to get work permits, which basically they donít give to people whose main profession is not being in a band. Our main profession is not being in a band, so thereís no way weíre going to get work then to be in a band. The only way that we can do a gig in the States is not-for-profit. You canít do a tour like that.

Except for possibly Libya and North Korea outside of the US, itís the most difficult place to come to if youíre in a band. I mean, somewhere like Russia is probably a lot easier. It is the most unwelcoming place that you could possibly find if youíre in a rock band. Itís unbelievably difficult to get an overseas band through Immigration. You canít do it. The only way you can do it is do it not-for-profit and lie through your teeth when you come in. Thatís all you can do.

Nobody in the US knows about this.

Interviewer: But yet our bands can go over there and generate revenue for other countries?

Martin: Yeah. But there is a very aggressive policy to stop overseas bands from coming into the US. So thatís why we donít come over more often. Thatís why weíre playing Mexico and not the US. We can land in a US airport if weíre in transit to somewhere else, but they wonít send us on with our guitars if weíre going to a US destination.

Note that this was recorded in April 2003, well before the latest amendments made foreigners even less welcome.

NP: Marillion 20/12/90, Walsall, UK

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