Finally we have our visas to work in the US. The process has been an eye opening and, perhaps worth detailing here.
First the venues inviting us had to engage an attorney to fill in forms and draw up a petition arguing our case. This included evidence of who they were, what Stan’s Cafe is, what the show is and a copy of our contract. It included reviews of the show, biographies of company members, even some of those, like Nick, who aren’t travelling. They had to apply to the Actors Union in The States for agreement to let us work there – arguing that local performers could not take our roles. Once granted, this permission was included in the petition which, once completed was four inches thick, sent from the states and taken to the embassy in duplicate.
We filled in forms giving a significant amount of personal information and then the men had to fill in an extra form enquiring about former military service, membership of organisation or training in explosive Etc. We had to have photographs taken larger than conventional passport photographs complying with strict compositional stipulations which fortunately a photographer in Groningen had on her machine.
Appointments had to be made to visit the embassy. We flew from Amsterdam to Heathrow and stayed in a Paddington Hotel to be ready for our appointment at 08.00. We took our passports and arms full of documents, we queued on the pavement with at least a hundred other hopefuls, passed through security, got issued numbers, sat, waited and got called, had our finger tips scanned, our passports taken, told to wait, sat, waited and got called, spent thirty seconds in front of a very cheery Gentleman who wished us a pleasant trip and that was it, all done.
Passports with pasted in visas carrying out 2” square photographs should be with us by courier tomorrow, a triumph for Charlotte in the office who has coordinated the whole operation and taken years off her life in the process.
There are costs at every stage, they are cumulative and, in sum, exorbitant. Last month, when budgeting for our East Coast run, Nick’s line for visas read £1,500 and I thought he’d gone mad, now he just seems wise.