Band Denied Entry Into the United States
It is with shock, anger, sadness and most of all lack of understanding that we learned that our entry into the USA and thus our tour with KMFDM has been rendered impossible by the US authorities, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
We filed our first application for work visa as early as January 2017, early enough for a tour scheduled for October and way earlier than usually necessary. To make sure everything goes as planned, we hired TCG World, one of the leading American law firms for “Worldwide Artist and Entertainer Visa Services”. They have fought for and with us until the very end and they did an excellent job.
Unexpectedly, our process wasn’t done after a few weeks, as it is usually the case. Again and again we had to submit documents, which by then had already reached the extent of several hundreds of pages, compiled and professionally translated into English. We’ve met every demand and submitted countless translated interviews, newspaper articles, concert contracts, time schedules, endorsement contracts, label contracts, booking agency contracts, plane tickets and travel receipts, invoices from and to us, sales figures, bank account statements, revenues, expenses, tax assessments, medical data, criminal records, private background, family trees, employment agreements, credentials, booklet scans, production schedules, royalty statements, any proof of our existence as actual and not entirely unknown musicians, showing that our only interest in temporarily staying in the USA was merely about playing a tour. It’s not that we planned on stealing anyone’s job or even considered to stay there illegally. We even had statistics and testimonials compiled by approved business experts, as requested.
This whole process resembled a hydra; every submission of whatever was requested was followed by two further requests. It was almost summer by then and we started to feel like defendants in court who have to prove their innocence in a delict they aren’t even aware of.
By that time, we had already spent a high four-figure amount of dollars for agencies and our immigration attorneys as well as 80 hours of work searching, finding and compiling documents. The tour was only a few weeks away when TCG World advised us to spend another $ 1,200 for a so-called “Premium Upgrade”, which was supposed to grant a preferential and thus quicker treatment. Everything was said to turn out fine then.
With our departure being only one week away, our necessary appointment at the American consulate in Berlin, Germany, had yet been allocated. Appointments like these are normally allocated 8–10 days in advance. Not really doable with the time we had left, but who knows, after all we had this “Premium Upgrade”. Then we FINALLY received an email with an attached PDF, but it was not the expected invitation to Berlin… In fact this PDF contained a list of requested documents, which at that point we had already submitted long time ago. This time, we were asked to submit the same documents again in an extended and refined form, some of them even notarially certified. When we noticed the date of the letter, we were even more shocked than by the requests themselves: This letter was written a month ago and was lying around on some pile of papers in some American immigration agency.
We can only speculate on arbitrariness of public authorities or chicanery. The fact is: because of all this, our entry into the USA is being rendered impossible and thus active-passively denied. And this is not an isolated case. On that very day we read about the refusal of entry for other bands of different genres. Coincidence or making examples? Demonstration of power or a bunch of unfortunate accidents?
As KMFDM’s support band (support bands usually do not earn money) we would most probably have left more money IN the USA than taken OUT of the USA. So it’s not like we would have damaged the American economy with our work visa. Au contraire!
Meanwhile TCG World have officially filed a complaint against the US authorities. Sounds interesting, but doesn’t save our tour, so why give a shit?
At the end of the day this might be the most bitter disappointment in our career so far and a financial disaster after thousands of dollars spent. Not to mention plane tickets, merchandise orders and loss of earnings in a month that is now hardly utilizable work-wise on such short notice. We have spent a five-figure amount of Euros only for the experience of being treated like felons, despite the fact that the only thing we wanted to do in the USA was this:
Making people who love our music happy by doing what we love most!
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