Have you ever attended a workshop with an instructor from another country? It is so exciting. Learning techniques and moves that might not be as common in your territory. Hearing the various names for the same moves. Sharing stories about traveling the world. Have you ever wondered what kind of work goes into bringing over a guest instructor?
Recently, the Canadian government has come down hard on some pole studio owners for hosting instructors that did not have proper work visas. A famous pole instructor from the United States was recently denied entrance into Canada due to visa issues. International Pole Camp, held annually in Canada, has been canceled for 2013. The first annual International Pole and Aerial Arts Convention, which was supposed to take place last September in London, was shut down for the same reason. We understand this problem has started popping up all over the world. When the pole industry was small, instructors could easily get a visitor's visa to go to other countries. As the pole industry has grown, we are garnering more attention and governments are taking note and requiring the proper work visas for traveling instructors.
What's a visa? Essentially, any time you want to visit a country other than your own (with some exceptions), you need to get permission in advance and state the purpose of your visit. For a temporary stay in the U.S., you can apply for a business visa (B1), pleasure, tourism or medical visa (B2) or a combination of both. OR, you may need to apply for a work visa. Of course there are fees and paperwork to accompany the process. Each applicant must state the purpose of their trip; that they plan to remain for a specific, limited period; provide evidence of funds to cover expenses in the U.S.; provide evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and prove that they have a residence outside the US, as well as other binding ties that will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
It can be confusing as to whether or not you are applying for the CORRECT visa (arguably, pole instructors coming to the U.S. may want to choose the "P" work visa for performing athletes, artists, entertainers; however, we are not providing legal advice, so you may want to speak with an attorney if you are planning to travel abroad to teach). If you are coming to the U.S. to WORK, even if for a short period of time, you need to apply for the work visa, which may have tax implications. For United States rules, please click HERE. If you are interested in traveling to Canada for work, click HERE. We could literally go country by country, trying to list the rules and exclusions for work visas or permits in each one. However, the purpose of this blog is to make everyone aware of the different visas so that you can avoid the government knocking on your door.
If you are a studio owner who would like to host a pole instructor, please make sure you understand the rules of bringing a guest instructor to your country. If you are an instructor looking to travel the world and teach what you love, make sure you are aware of the rules of the country to which you will be traveling. The visa application process can take some time, so give yourself plenty of it when applying. You don't want to miss out on sharing your love and knowledge of pole with the world.
Have any of you traveled out of the country for the love of pole? Tell us your stories, or share your opinions on getting the proper visa here.