SXSW 2018

Can you believe it’s that time again? The first batch of acts for SXSW festival have been announced and there is much excitement in the air for the emerging artists who have made the cut.

For the cynical among you, every silver lining has a cloud, and for some hopeful SXSW goers in 2017 this cloud was US immigration. The drama around visas for the 2017 SXSW will no doubt still be fresh in the minds of those who were affected, but for 2018 acts, it may be something they are completely unaware of. (

Here’s the skinny on what happened…

Some acts were denied entry at US Border when entering on ESTA / B-1 visas. This was a devastating blow as they were told by the embassy or SXSW themselves that they’ll be okay to perform using that visa. They were sadly misinformed. Performers were detained by CBP, sent home and advised to get proper work visas. This had a crushing effect on them, many losing hundreds of dollars, and untold missed opportunity.

This year to avoid all that stress and heartache, we’re advising all artists and their essential support staff to apply for proper work visas, especially if you’re considering tacking on additional dates around SXSW. Here’s our thinking;

Showcase performances in the US have always been a grey area, and entry in to the US is ultimately always determined by the CBP officer you when you step off the plane, and they’re not always as clued up about immigration law as you might expect. If you’re (un)lucky enough to draw the attention of a CBP officer and they Google you and see that you’re doing more shows than just an official SXSW showcase, expect to be in trouble if you don’t have a work visa!

Even though SXSW are advising performers to obtain a B visa instead of using ESTA, we would strongly recommend applying for a work visa to minimise the risks. Being denied entry would result in ESTA revocation and could jeopardise future US visa applications. P and O work visas are petition based, meaning the artist would require a US “sponsor” for the shows. If you’re only travelling for SXSW, then they can act as petitioner.

Viva La Visa are experts in US immigration and are happy to chat through your concerns and advise on what category of visa you would need to suit your needs. We can also assist with all aspects of the petition and visa process.



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