Italian band Soviet Soviet announced on Facebook that it would not be touring the U.S. this week and the next for one reason: It had been deported.
The band landed in Seattle on Wednesday, and was reportedly traveling under ETSA, a visa waiver program that allows residents of 40 countries to travel to the U.S. without having to obtain a visa. The program, which prohibits its holders from paid work, is frequently used by performers coming to the US for unpaid gigs.
According to the group, its members had a letter from its American record label clarifying that the group was slated to perform promotional, unpaid gigs in the U.S., including at the SXSW in Austin, and at KEXP.
The band alleges that its three members were questioned for hours, denied entry into the country and subsequently taken to a jail. They were held overnight, and then sent back to Italy.
The band said the agents’ decision to forbid them entry into the U.S. may have been due to the fact that while the band members were carrying an ETSA, they were scheduled to perform at venues that would charge the audience money. Even then, the band would not have had any immediate monetary benefits from the performances.
On Tuesday, prominent immigration attorney Brian Taylor Goldstein, whose work centers around musicians seeking to tour the U.S., published an article dispensing advice to musicians on battling the problems the new administration poses. Goldstein said ETSA does not provide artists enough cover, and any artists coming in should get “O” or “P” visas.