by David Robb
UPDATED with comment from AMPTP: The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would crack down on producers who bring unqualified directors and movie crews into the country to take the jobs of American film workers.
The bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to require the Department of Homeland Security to give the DGA, IATSE and management’s AMPTP a copy of any decision regarding the approval or denial of O-1 and O-2 visa applications of foreign directors and crews seeking to work on films and TV shows shot in the U.S. Currently, the unions and the AMPTP only have the right to offer their advice about the qualifications of those visa applicants, but are not informed about whether the applications were approved or not.
The bill, known as the Oversee Visa Integrity with Stakeholder Advisories Act (H.R. 3636), received the support of the DGA and IATSE, which called it an “important step in providing a level of transparency that will help ensure the security and integrity of the… O-1B and O-2 visa program.” Administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the program admits foreign directors, members of the director’s team, and craftspeople with “extraordinary ability” to work temporarily in the U.S on motion picture production.
“While the vast majority of those seeking O-1B and O-2 visas use the programs appropriately,” the unions said in a statement, “for years we have expressed our concerns that the USCIS has been approving fraudulent applications that have not been subject to any review, and has refused to even notify us when insufficient applications are approved over our valid objections – undermining the statutory mandate and preventing us from fulfilling our obligations to Congress in this very important area. By requiring the USCIS to give us notice of a final visa ruling, we will be better able to assist them in identifying fraud and abuse, as well as protecting our national security.”
The AMPTP also supports the legislation. “We applaud Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-CA), Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and the rest of the House of Representatives on the passage of H.R. 3636,” said AMPTP spokesman Jarryd Gonzales. “The O1-B visa program plays an important role in U.S. film and television production, and this bill is a big step in the right direction to help protect its integrity.”
The bill must still be approved by the Senate and signed by the president before becoming law.