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ProgPower USA Announces Morgana Lefay Out Of ProgPower USA Due To The "Dreaded VISA Issues"

In a heartfelt post, ProgPower USA promoter Glenn Harveston announced that Sweden's Morgana Lefay will be be participating in this year's festival due to "dreaded VISA issues." The process has become worse and worse lately, as Harveston points out - and the cancellation of Morgana Lefay's appearance is just another in a myriad of tour and appearances that have been lost to the process.

The statement reads: "Over the years, I have had to write a post like this a few times. It is the absolute worst part of the job. It’s one that pisses me off and makes you want to retire.

"Due to the dreaded 'visa issues,' Morgana Lefay will not be performing at the festival this year. The band has been truly professional and understanding of the situation. Unfortunately, there is nothing within our means that can be done to meet a potential deadline required for scheduling interviews at the Swedish consul and having assurance the actual physical visas will be in hand prior to travel for the festival.

"There was a worldwide shutdown on the visa process in June for an unspecified time due to “technical difficulties.” This has caused chaos around the world across not only the entertainment industry, but the private sector as well. There is no guarantee that even paying a premium fee will change things as well. Class action lawsuits against the UCIS have started to become more frequent as well because of delays. The issue continues to hurt bands in our genres as Obscura just announced they had to cancel a U.S. tour and lost $15,000 as a result of visa delays. The list goes on and on. As a point of reference, Morgana Lefay’s paperwork was submitted in late April.

"To be perfectly clear, the problem is not with the bands, the professional agency filing the visas, nor delays from my side. The issue is delays within the UCIS that do not meet current advertised timelines. Currently, the east coast UCIS processing center shows a timeline of two weeks for processing P-1 visas on their website. It has said that since early July. That is on par with the last several years. The average time to process a P-1 visa this year at that location since May has been 10-12 weeks provided there are no issues. If there is a request for evidence (RFE) after filing, you can add another 2-8 weeks on easily after their receipt of it. RFEs are not uncommon, but there is no way to truly prevent them. It is a subjective decision by one person that happens to have received the application. The same exact evidence can be sent for 8 other bands and there is no problem. There simply is no transparency or consistency to the process despite their published guidelines. We have successfully obtained 100% of all visas that had RFEs in the past. However, the response time now is a mystery and that is the problem. There was no way to anticipate it possibly taking 5 months to complete the process in some situations compared to a single month normally for the first part of the process. The odd part is that some visas on the east coast side did go through in two weeks with the same paperwork/evidence submitted at the exact same time. The west coast UCIS office is also not experiencing these delays. However, we do not get to choose which location it goes to though.

"I opened up a case with Tier 2 support at the UCIS last week to find out how long the ROI process is taking currently and requested an emergency expedite. After discussing specifics with an officer, I was informed we should have the decision by the end of August, but possibly early September. The expedite was denied because they are technically within legal parameters. If I have not heard anything by Oct 15th, I should call them back. You read that correct….October 15th. It did no good to point out that was a month after the festival took place.

"If the visa approval came back even next week by some miracle, the process is still not over. Morgana Lefay would still have to schedule interviews at the Swedish consul in order to complete the process. It could take another 2-3 weeks minimum to get an appointment without an emergency request approved there (once again, no guarantee). There is also no way to know until you actually submit electronically (which by the way costs you another $200 per person regardless if you complete them or not). If the visa approval came back today, that still potentially puts the interview at the end of August at the absolute earliest based on the schedule given other bands in the same country that I have spoken with. The process is still not over then. It takes another 3-5 business days minimum for the band to receive their visa in the mail after completing the interview. All of this is assuming there are no delays on the consul or postal side. For example, there was a band that recently had scheduled interviews for over a month and had purchased flights to the city where the consul is at. Their interviews were cancelled without an explanation. The bands was able to reschedule the interviews immediately once they spoke to the consul (only allowed on specific days), but were not reimbursed for the cost of changing their flights to another date. These are the type of variables you face even once you receive an approval on this side of the pond.

"We could continue to fight this battle right up until the last minute. I feel terrible for Morgana Lefay as they have done nothing wrong. No one has. However, there is absolutely no guarantee that we would even receive a ruling this month or have the visas issued prior to September. We are completely in the dark. Therefore, with the best interest of the festival in mind, I must make the difficult decision of pulling the plug on the application process now. It would be impossible to find a quality replacement on the level of Morgana Lefay at the very last minute. I apologize to the band and all of the fans that were anticipating their performance. I ask for everyone’s understanding and patience as I sort through my options. A replacement will be announced in the next 24-72 hrs if all goes well."

Stay tuned for the announcement of a replacement. The festival will begin with "Mid-Week Mayhem" on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.

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