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K-pop tours at risk: U.S. quadruples visa fees for international artists; BTS will now have to pay…



K-pop’s explosive global popularity has led to sold-out tours worldwide, but a recent move by the U.S. government could throw a wrench into those dream concerts. The cost of obtaining visas for international artists has skyrocketed, quadrupled in fact. As we approach 2025, major K-pop companies like HYBE are preparing their artists such as BTS, NewJeans, Seventeen, etc., for world tour comebacks. However, it appears things might take a sour turn for the fans.

BTS and BLACKPINK won awards at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs).

U.S. Quadruples Visa Fees for foreign artists

On April 1, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a 250% increase in visa costs for international musicians looking to tour in the country. For example, a four-person standard rock band could see their visa fees increase from $1.840 to about $6,760. For those who cannot wait for a standard approval time, USCIS charges an expedited processing fee of $2.805 per application.

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How much BTS has to pay to tour in US

K-pop superstars like BTS, BLACKPINK, NewJeans, etc. all have large fan bases in the U.S. Similarly, their tours result in sold-out arenas. However, due to the new laws, the price of a seven-person band like BTS has increased from USD 3,220 to USD 11,305-$11,585 USD, and that’s just for the members alone. Now for huge bands like BTS, this may not be a bigger issue, but for rising K-pop bands this might pose a big threat. To save money, some of these musicians may have to forgo performing in the US entirely

The law also stipulates that if musicians plan to bring support staff such as bodyguards, translators, venue managers, or band crew, these individuals will also require visas. Additionally, if an artist’s visa application is not accepted, there will be no refund issued.

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How is the visa hike going to impact US tours?

As per BAL Sports and Entertainment Practice’s Gabriel Castro, “You’re going to see a decrease in international acts coming to the United States. And maybe it’s decreased frequency more than a decrease in the absolute number. We’ll see less and less emerging artists. The harder you make it for them to come to the United States, the less you’re going to see them here. It’s not just the mid-sized venue in Cleveland that will feel it, but the parking lot down the street, the restaurants and bars people go to before and after.” Castro claims that American performers are exempt from visa requirements and can enter most nations without one.

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