Local News

Visa Holdup Inconveniences Ballet Troupe

Posted October 4, 2002

— Some dancers in a local ballet company are experiencing long visa delays and complications with

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services


Two dancers at the

Carolina Ballet

were prevented from re-entering the United States because of an INS holdup.

The two dancers applied for their visas in April and May 2002, but they said 5.5 months passed until they were allowed back in the country.

There have been no performance cancellations, but the visa problems have created some inconveniences.

According to immigration attorney Anna Choi, the process should take less than half of that time, but she said her communication with the INS is limited to automated phone messages.

"I don't doubt for a minute they are swamped. My concern is for a system where things are supposed to be dealt with in an appropriate period of time," said Choi.

Gabor Kapin, another dancer at Carolina Ballet, said he was not paid during his first three weeks at the ballet.

Kapin, who came to the United States from Hungary, claimed the INS processing delay prevented him from getting paid. He supported himself with help from fellow dancers.

Robert Weiss, the director of the Carolina Ballet, believes it has been a nationwide problem since the terrorist attacks.

"I'm all for scrutinizing people in bigger, harder ways to make sure we keep terrorists out of America. But people who have 0-1 visas, who have been in the country for the last three years - they're ballet dancers. That's a different story," said Weiss.


Ron Pittman


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