Tuesday, April 9, 2013
United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has announced that, effective April 30, 2013, artists and performers (as well as everyone else) entering the U.S. will no longer receive physical I-94 forms. The process will now be electronically automated!
Form I-94 is the official arrival/departure record issued to foreign artists and travelers when they enter the U.S.. This form is also issued to those who adjust their status while in the U.S. (ie: change from F to O), or who extend their visas. The I-94 confirms the foreign individual’s status or visa category (O, P, F, B1/B2, etc.) and the departure date by which they must leave the U.S. When the foreign traveler leaves, they surrender the I-94 either to the commercial airline carrier or to CBP directly. The I-94 information and the date of departure are then entered into a database to verify that the traveler did not overstay the required departure date.
Up until now, every artist entering the U.S. (except, occasionally, Canadians, depending on when and where they enter) has been given a paper Form I-94 to fill out (most often while waiting in line to enter the U.S.), the bottom half of which is stamped with their status and departure date and returned to them by a CBP officer.
While the departure date most often corresponds with the visa classification period approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a CBP Officer at the port of entry has the complete and unfettered discretion to issue a sooner departure date or extend the departure date by up to 10-days. Regardless, the artist MUST leave the US by the date stamped on the I-94 regardless of what was approved by USCIS or written on their visa. The I-94 form is not only important for establishing the official departure date, but it is also used to verify immigration status by employers, schools and universities, and various governmental agencies. For example, it is necessary to obtain drivers licenses and social security numbers. The I-94 is also required by USCIS when an artist is currently in the US and files a visa petition to extend their visa. In such cases, the petition must include a copy of the I-94 to show that the artist was validly admitted and is currently “in-status.”
Beginning on April 30, 2013, CBP will no longer require foreign visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea and will no longer issues paper I-94 forms in return. Instead, CBP will gather the arrival/departure information automatically from the foreign artist’s electronic travel records and, upon entry of the artist into the U.S., will enter their status and departure date electronically. (Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will continue to issue a paper form I-94 “at land border ports of entry”—which is government-speak for Canada and Mexico.)
With the new CBP process, a CBP officer will stamp the passport of each arriving artist. The admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the departure date by which the traveler must leave. Travelers wanting a hard copy or other evidence of their valid admission and immigration status will be directed to a special website (www.cbp.gov/I94) where, using their passport numbers and names, they can access and print as many physical copies of their I-94 as they need for employers and for other purposes. (Please note that this site will not be active until after April 30, 2013)
Artists will not need to do anything differently upon exiting the U.S. If the artist did not receive a paper Form I-94, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP. If the artist was issued a paper I-94, they will continue to surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP as before.
CBP will phase-in the Form I-94 automation at air and sea ports of entry throughout April and May. Foreign artists will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 until the automated process arrives at their port of entry.
You can read more about CBP’s plans and schedule to automate Form I-94 at:
CBP has also issued a fact sheet that includes frequently asked questions regarding the impact of automation, visa revalidation, passenger processing times, and more. You can access that at:
CBP contends that this automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security, and reduce federal costs by saving the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year. That remains to be seen. Whether or not CBP effectively informs the myriad of other state and federal agencies whose employees are trained to look for a physical I-94, and whether or not those state and federal agencies will actually understand that the process has changed and accept a print out from a website, and whether or not CBP actually gets its website to work, also remains to be seen. Only time will tell.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
By Robyn Guilliams
The IRS has announced that, effective October 1, 2012 (that’s this Monday, people!), ALL requests for Central Withholding Agreements (CWAs) must be sent to the following address/fax number:
Central Withholding Agreement Program
Mail Stop: 1441
2001 Butterfield Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515-1050
Fax: (603) 493-5906
The full announcement can be viewed on the IRS’s website at
In addition, it’s worth noting that the announcement indicates that, effective on January 1, 2013, CWA requests received less than 45 days prior to the first event to be covered by the CWA will not be processed and such event(s) will be subject to withholding at 30% of the gross income…So – be sure to get your request submitted by the deadline!
The announcement also addresses requirements for nonresidents working in the U.S. to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN). The IRS technically is correct that it is not “necessary” for a nonresident to wait 10 days after arriving in the U.S. to request a SSN. However, in my experience, many workers at the Social Security Administration (SSA) apparently never received this memo. I know of a number of nonresidents who have been turned away from SSA offices because the nonresident didn’t wait 10 days after arriving in the U.S. to request his SSN. So, rather than make the trip into SSA (and possibly wait in long lines) only to be turned away, I strongly advise nonresidents to wait the 10 days before trekking into SSA!
Finally, the IRS has posted a Q & A from a recent “phone forum” on CWAs, which can be viewed here http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Questions-and-Answers-from-CWA-Phone-Forum
This page addresses many misconceptions about payments to – or for the services of – nonresident artists, and is recommended reading for anyone who presents OR represents foreign artists (complete with citations to the relevant IRS Treasury Regulations – woohoo!)
Thursday, June 28, 2012
The IRS announced on Friday that it is changing (or in the IRS’s words, “strengthening”) its procedures for obtaining an Individual Tax Identification Number (“ITIN”). Unfortunately, these new procedures may make it more difficult for foreign artists filing tax returns from abroad to obtain ITINs and stay in compliance with U.S. tax law.
Individuals who have earned compensation for work performed in the U.S. are required to file U.S. tax returns to report that income, even if no U.S. tax is due. And to file a tax return, an individual must have a U.S. tax identification number. There generally are two types of tax identification numbers for individuals filing U.S. returns – Social Security Numbers (SSNs), and ITINs.
As many of you know, SSNs may be obtained by nonresident individuals ONLY by applying in person, at a Social Security Administration office in the United States. And, many also are painfully aware that there are onerous time restrictions for individuals applying for SSNs – in effect, an individual must wait 10 days after arriving in the U.S. to apply for a number, AND the individual must have 14 days of work authorization remaining on his I-94 card at the time of applying for an SSN to be eligible for the SSN. So, if an artist is here in the U.S. for less than 24 days, obtaining an SSN is practically impossible.
The alternative for these individuals is to request an ITIN at the time of filing a U.S. tax return. Along with the one-page W-7 ITIN request form, the IRS requires a nonresident individual to submit proof of his or her identity and “foreign status” to obtain an ITIN. This proof can take the form of a certified copy of the individual’s passport alone, or copies of two of the following: 1) a current national ID card (that includes the individual’s name, address, photograph, date of birth and expiration date); 2) a foreign voter registration card; and 3) a civil birth certificate. In the past, the IRS has allowed copies of these documents to be certified by a U.S. notary, by a foreign “apostille” (a foreign notary seal recognized by the Hague Convention), or by the government agency that issued the document.
Effective immediately, however, only copies of documents certified by the agency that issued that document will be accepted with ITIN requests. The IRS will no longer accept passport or other copies that have been certified by U.S. or foreign notaries. So, for instance, if an individual wishes to submit a copy of his passport as proof of his identity and foreign status, the individual must obtain a copy of the passport certified by whatever government agency issued that passport.
Note that this new “strengthened” procedure is in place only until the end of this year, when the IRS will issue "NEW" guidelines for obtaining ITINs.
The IRS has posted additional information on its website to address additional questions regarding the new procedure. This information may be found at: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=258474,00.html
What does this mean for foreign artists who will be required to file U.S. tax returns, but do not yet have a U.S. tax identification number? If at all possible, the artist should try to apply for a SSN while in the U.S. This can difficult due to tight touring schedules, but doing so may be simpler than obtaining documents certified by the appropriate government agency, depending on the artist’s country of citizenship. The alternative will be to obtain documents (e.g., passport copies) that are certified by the government agency that issued the documents, at least through the remainder of 2012. When the new ITIN guidelines are issued for 2013 (most likely late this year), we will certainly let you know what the new, permanent guidelines will be, and how those new guidelines will affect foreign performers!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The League of American Orchestras and Association of Performing Arts Presenters, in conjunction with FTM Arts Law, are pleased to announce the re-launch of ARTISTS FROM ABROAD
Relied upon by thousands as the most complete and up-to-date online resource for engaging foreign guest artists and non-US arts professionals, artistsfromabroad.org provides essential guidance, forms, sample documents, and useful links.
Seriously....this is it! Everything you ever wanted to know about visas and taxes for foreign guest artists all in one spot--now fully updated and re-designed.
Authored by Jonathan Ginsburg and Robyn Guilliams of FTM Arts Law, the newly redesigned and re-launched website makes it even easier to find the information performing arts organizations and artist managers need to successfully navigate the U.S. visa and tax procedures required when engaging international artists for performances in the U.S. The new site includes:
* RSS feed that can automatically notify you of site updates
* Improved, intuitive navigation
* Updated content and links throughout!
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
1. Your artist is contracted to play with the New York Philharmonic on a Tuesday evening in February and has a first rehearsal with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 pm. There is a flight from New York on Wednesday morning, leaving at 7:00 am and getting in at 10:30 am. The orchestra is insisting that the artist must be in L.A. the night before the first rehearsal, especially because of the possibility of inclement weather. The artist is unwilling to give up either engagement and insists that you convince the orchestra that a 10:30 am arrival in L.A. on the day of the first rehearsal should be fine. They argue that in the worst case scenario, they can perform the concerto on only one rehearsal. In this instance, which client do you favor? The manager needs to view the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a highly valued long-term client, with the awareness that taking a belligerent stance that could potentially affect the artistic quality of the scheduled concerts is not wise. If the worst happens, the relationship between manager and orchestra can be seriously compromised and it may also take a long while before the artist is re-engaged. That said, if artist and conductor have performed the work together before and it is not an unfamiliar work to the orchestra, there might be some room to persuade the orchestra to take a chance, since they will presumably still have the dress rehearsal together. If the orchestra doesn’t agree, especially since it can be extremely complicated to change rehearsal orders at the last minute, it is the manager's job to convince the artist that they will actively pursue the next possible opportunity to bring artist and orchestra together.
2. The Toronto Symphony has engaged an artist for subscription concerts. At the time when the contract was issued, they asked for a clause stating that the artist would attend a post-concert reception. The artist’s manager consulted with the artist who asked that the presenter accept wording indicating he would make best efforts to attend. He did not want to be contractually bound in the event he took ill and felt he couldn’t do anything more than the concert. The concert day arrived. The artist learned that very day that his best friend from conservatory days was driving 200 miles to attend the concert and wanted to have dinner afterwards. He would be leaving at 6:00 am the next morning. The artist asked the manager to check with the presenter if it would suffice for him to meet VIP’s in the green room and be excused from the reception. He clearly recalled never having contractually agreed to any post-concert activity. The presenter informed the manager that their largest donor, who had funded the concert, was hosting the reception and would not take kindly to a fleeting appearance by the artist. Their relationship with that donor could also be in jeopardy. Whose arm should the manager twist? Neither. The artist should be reminded that the presenter might well be in a position to re-engage them far into the future and it would behoove them to put their professional priorities first. At the same time, the manager might inquire as to whether the artist could attend for a brief while (not to exceed 30 minutes) and whether the donor could be sure to be accessible at that time. They could also check whether the artist’s guest could attend. If the answer is full reception or nothing, the artist should accede to the request, as it was known from the beginning. If, on the other hand, the artist asked to be excused due to illness, which is presumably obvious to the presenter and the donor, the artist’s health should be of paramount concern and a backstage meet and greet might suffice.
3. An artist of some renown is being engaged for a recital in a major city where there are two suitable venues. One has a capacity of 800 and the other has a capacity of 1500. The artist already played once before in the smaller hall and wants to now play in the larger one because they view it as being more prestigious. The presenter only sold 500 seats to the artist’s last recital and feels it is too big a stretch to move to the larger hall. The risk of losing considerable money is too great and they think it would be far better for themselves and the artist to be able to advertise a sold out concert. The artist wants the manager to hold firm with regard to the larger venue. What to do? No manager wants to see a presenter lose money and an artist shouldn’t either. If the artist is adamant, one solution might be for the manager to propose a box office split in the larger venue that would ensure that the presenter’s reasonable and well documented expenses are covered, with the artist receiving an agreed upon fee (perhaps what they would have received in the smaller hall). Any remaining box office income could then be split by the two parties as agreed. The manager will want to stay on top of the presenter's venue and marketing costs and the presenter may request that the artist offer a program that is not their most esoteric. Some presenters might prefer not to share their event budget with the manager but rather to pay a guaranteed fee plus bonus payments when certain pre-established levels of ticket sales are reached.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Washingtonian magazine has named Brian Taylor Goldstein to its 2011 list of Washington's Best Entertainment Lawyers. Brian was named as one of the "Stars of the Bar" in the area of Performing Arts and Entertainment and was recognized as among the top 10 "dealmakers" who "represent authors, athletes, and other clients in media and the arts."
The Washingtonian's "Best Lawyers" list, which is now available in the December 2011 issue, highlights "the very best in legal talent" within the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
With offices in Fairfax, Virginia and New York City, Brian is a partner in FTM Arts Law, the entertainment division of the law firm of Fettmann, Tolchin and Majors, P.C., and Managing Director of the arts management and consulting firm of FTM International.