While the three Italian members of the band Soviet Soviet were traveling under ESTA (Visa Waiver Program), it seems things have changed. According to WPXI, on arrival to keep several tour dates in the U.S., the band was questioned for hours, then jailed, and finally deported back to Pesaro in Italy. Reportedly the band arrived in Seattle on March 8.

The ESTA program allows citizens of around 40 countries to travel to the U.S. without the need of a visa. ESTA is reportedly used by most bands visiting the country, but only in the case of unpaid performances, as paid performances are prohibited from using that method of entering the country.

The group said its members were all carrying a letter from the band’s American record label, which explained they were scheduled to perform several “promotional” and unpaid shows in the country. This was supposed to include a live performance on KEXP, as well as an appearance at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Tx.

Soviet Soviet: Questioned, jailed, and deported

However, on arrival, all three band members were held and questioned for several hours at the airport. They were then taken to a local jail and held overnight. The next morning the three musicians were escorted to the airport and put on a plane back to Italy. According to Soviet Soviet, they were made to feel like criminals.

The band members believe the border agents might have believed that the three musicians required work visas to enter the U.S., mainly because two of the venues where they would be performing would be charging entry fees to the audience. While the band stressed they were not going to earn any money in the U.S., this didn’t help them in their plight.

On their Facebook page, the band members said that the U.S. had declared them illegal immigrants, despite the fact they were not looking for work in the country.

All the band’s appearances in the U.S. canceled

KEXP explained in their blog that Soviet Soviet were supposed to perform on “The Morning Show.” Reportedly the band’s album “Endless,” released in December, is a fan favorite on the radio station and they had been looking forward to the band playing on the show.

However, they said all the band’s scheduled performances – including SXSW, Kremwork and other venues on the West Coast – had to be canceled.

SXSW starts on March 13

According to a report by NPR, other musicians will probably face a similar welcome as they arrive in the U.S. over the next few days. SXSW is a particular worry, as reportedly in 2016, there were just under 600 foreign acts on stage. NPR says Brian Taylor Goldstein, a prominent immigration attorney, has published an article, advising international musicians about what is currently happening in the U.S.

and the changes to the immigration policy since Donald Trump became president. He basically urged visiting musicians to get “O” or “P” visas, normally used by paid, working entertainers, even if they are performing for showcasing or promotional purposes.

In lieu of the canceled appearances, readers can listen to the band in the video below.

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