Yo Yo Ma assails visa rules

Lisa Friedman in the LA Daily News:

Post-9-11 security rules aimed at stopping terrorists from entering America are keeping artists, musicians and others out as well, renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma told a congressional committee Tuesday.

With a growing number of foreign artists canceling their U.S. performances – last week Britain’s Halle Orchestra called off its American tour citing prohibitive visa fees and requirements – Ma said America is in danger of losing meaningful cultural exchanges.

“Bringing foreign musicians to this country and sending our performers to visit them is crucial,” Ma, a U.S. citizen born in France to Chinese parents, told the House Government Reform Committee.

“(But) the high cost and lengthy timeline make these programs difficult to execute,” he said.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, visitors from Mexico City can expect to wait more than four months to get a consulate interview for a temporary business visa. Visitors from throughout India face waits as long as 100 to 160 days. The delays in large part are the result of requirements Congress imposed upon the State Department after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

More here.