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Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:19am ET by  

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Musicians prevented from playing at SXSW due to US visa policy change

Several artists have been unable to enter the US due to visa issues resulting in their performances at SXSW being cancelled.

A visiting musician has always been able to play in the US with a general B-1 visitor visa so long as no money changes hands. Most musicians receive no payment for playing festivals such as the SXSW. If they are touring or receiving income, they must get a P-1 visa.

However, there has been a sudden change to this regulation. On March 13 U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a statement that musicians wanting to perform at SXSW would now need a P-1 visa just to enter the US.

The musicians that have come forward about being banned are the London-based jazz duo, Yussef Kamaal; the Italian band, Soviet Soviet; and some members of Massive Scar Era, the Egyptian-Canadian band.

Massive Scar Era's guitarist and vocalist, Cherine Amr, told Billboard about her conversation with the U.S. border official:

"He said that he knows that I've done everything legally and that I'm not lying, but he's still not going to let me in. He said that people are using the festival to protest but I told him we are not going there to protest. We have no intentions of doing anything illegal or engaging in any political activity.

"We're just going to promote ourselves, meet labels and bookers and network."

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