Okay, so my band is planning a North American tour. I have heard many ways in which you can accomplish getting across the border, most ways unfortunately are illegal. Some bands end up not making it, completely screwing themselves over by getting caught and being banned from the states for five years. Im guessing that after that five year period is up, getting into the states will never truely be easy for them again.
Just with my personality type, I know, that if we were to put together some crazy scam to get across the states, I would probably go crazy right up until we made it through. I couldn't handle it. No way. There's no way I could rely on chance, and five people getting the same story straight. Especially for an extensive tour in the states that would need major planning, not to mention quitting our jobs, buying a van, also trying to get merch across etc.
I have heard many ways of doing it illegally, but as a band, we have decided to go about it legally. Which if we can acquire working Visas, will allow us everything we need to get into the states, tour, bring our merch and come home no problemo. I have also heard that even with a Visa they can still deny your entry, but the chance is way smaller.
Upon initially asking around for advice and information, I found that there wasn't very much available to someone who really has no idea what they are doing. I didn't even know where to start. I turned to my friends in a band currently touring the states and was given the name of an organization that could help and affordably.
At this point I realized, I should track my progress, keep people updated with mistakes or important things you need beforehand if you are also planning on obtaining a Visa for touring the states. So this is my gift to anyone attempting to do the same thing: my experience doing so, updated as we complete the steps in the process. I know I would have appreciated something like this, so I hope you do!
Up until this point I heard that Visas were ridiculously expensive to get, up to $1000 or more per member. Which does sound ridiculous and in most cases probably annihilated any hope a band had of touring the states. This is not true! The organization I was referred to is called Tamizdat. Visa's for your entire band (no matter how many members) is $1200. Which if you have a 5 person band, $240 each, sounds reasonable right? Right. Some companies like Globalaxs can charge an upwards of $2090, and that's for a four person band. Apparently Tamizdat helps get the $1000 "processing fee" waived.
So once deciding that we were going with Tamizdat, we emailed them letting them know that we wanted to use their organization for Visa services, they set us up a band code and away we go.
First thing you may want to look at is a list of things you'll need for the application process.
First things first, you need a TON of press, like lots, as much as you can get! And press from outside of Canada too, the more the better. Big name blogs, music reviews, magazines, whatever, you need it.
So this is our first struggle, my band does not have a lot of press. A couple mentions here and there but no reviews, nothing really. Once I found out about this, I realized that our initial timeline just got fucked. We are leaving for tour in may, 199 days from now. We need to have everything in and processed by Tamizadat by an absolute minimum 100 days before we leave for tour.
That leaves me with 99 days to figure this shit out, book the tour, record and have demos available and sent for our application. Not to mention, a ton of press I have to magically try and get. So that is where we are currently sitting.