October 26, 2016

In this issue:

USCIS Raises Visa Filing Fees


U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced it will increase the I-129 filing fee for a nonimmigrant worker-which includes O and P artists visas-from $325 to $460. The new fee becomes effective on December 23, 2016. Earlier this summer, PAA joined a coalition of advocates objecting to a fee increase and calling for improvements to the O and P visa process.
Petitioners should plan for this increased cost for visa applications postmarked  on and after December 23, 2016. The Premium Processing Service fee remains $1,225. For more information on fee increases, visit Artists from Abroad.

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Prepare for the New Overtime Regulations

(Photo Credit: Bernard Polet, Flickr Creative Commons)

On December 1, updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) take effect, increasing the salary threshold for employees entitled to overtime compensation to $47,476/year. The current salary threshold is $23,660/year. Regulations will also automatically update this threshold every three years-beginning in 2020-based on national wage growth.

While the House has passed legislation that supports a phased-in implementation, and there are pending legal challenges to the regulations, it is not expected that this legislation will move through the Senate or find support with the Administration. Employers are strongly urged to prepare for implementation.

To offer guidance, OPERA America and Theatre Communications Group (TCG) have created these helpful resources which discuss implementation of the regulations from the perspective of a nonprofit performing arts organization:
Here are additional resources discussing the regulations from the lens of the nonprofit sector: Back to Top

Continuing Resolution in Effect through December 9

On September 28, Congress passed a continuing resolution, a spending agreement to keep the government running through December 9, 2016. President Obama signed the bill on September 29, one day before the end of the fiscal year.

The continuing resolution allows agencies and programs to operate at near FY16 levels while Congress agrees on an FY17 spending bill. Currently, arts and culture related agencies and programs are funded at these FY16 levels:
  • National Endowment for the Arts: $148 million
  • Arts in Education at the Department of Education: $27 million
  • Cultural Exchanges at the State Department: $102 million
All programs and initiatives that were authorized during FY16 are permitted to continue, however, agencies and departments are not permitted to fund new initiatives during the term of the continuing resolution. PAA will keep you informed as Congress works toward a spending plan for FY17.

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Connect with Lawmakers During Recess

Congress is on recess until after the elections; take this time to meet with your lawmakers to speak up for the arts!

Nonprofits are allowed by law to participate in advocacy: efforts to educate lawmakers about particular issues, and lobbying: activities aimed to influence lawmakers' positions on specific pieces of legislation. There are legal limits to lobbying based on the amount of funds expended, but there is no limit on educational advocacy activities.

PAA has prepared a detailed toolkit explaining lobbying and advocacy, how to meet with legislators, and how to build your case about the issues that matter to you. You can also visit the PAA Arts Advocacy Issue Center for facts and talking points on topics such as the National Endowment for the Arts, arts education, and more.

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The Performing Arts Alliance (PAA) is a 501c4 multi-disciplinary coalition of national service organizations from the professional nonprofit performing arts field. Through legislative and grassroots action, PAA advocates before the U.S. Congress and key policy makers for national policies that enhance and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America.