Home USA Immigration American dream over for North Wales band after immigration visa row

American dream over for North Wales band after immigration visa row

by admin

Author-Mari Jones

A Welsh band who were set to tour America for the first time were refused entry by immigration and put on a plane to Iceland.

The American dream lasted just 45 minutes for Spam Javelin – who recently released an album called ‘The Crack Whores of Betws Garmon’.

They were detained at Saint Paul Airport in Minneapolis as they were queuing up at passport control last Thursday (August 15).

The three piece band had been booked to play at four venues, beginning that evening in downtown Minneapolis, but it turns out Homeland Security had other ideas.

Although the punk rock band had successfully submitted an ESTA application – they had had failed to obtain US work permits, saying they cost more than £1,000 to apply for without any guarantee of being granted.

Lead singer Neil Crud from Colwyn Bay said: “We went with absolutely no band equipment whatsoever, as it was agreed we’d borrow everything once we got to the venues.

“We didn’t even have a plectrum, as we didn’t want them to know we were a band as we didn’t have the permit.

“We are a small band and we just haven’t got that kind of money.”

But, unfortunately for them it turned out the security officers knew everything about the band – even Neil’s stage name – and they were marched out of passport control and interviewed seperately.

“When the security officer asked me my stage name I told her I didn’t know what she was talking about as I was trying to wing it, but she told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t start telling the truth, we were going straight to jail,” said factory worker Neil.

“She told me they have a computer algorithm that picks out people travelling together and for security reasons it searched your affiliations.”

According to the ESTA website, The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and assess whether travel poses any law enforcement or security risk.

Anyone wishing to work in the United States for a temporary period is required to have a nonimmigrant work visa as you cannot work on a visitor or business visa, or under the Visa Waiver Program.

Neil added: “Even though we weren’t getting paid and I told her this, she said it didn’t matter as other people would be profiting from out performance.”

From Iceland the band had to pay for a flight to Copenhagen and then got a flight to Manchester leaving them£3,500 worse off.

Neil said: “No one hardly spoke on the flight we were all too devastated by what had happened.”

Instead of playing in Iowa on Saturday night they found themselves playing at The Marine Pub, in Old Colwyn, instead.

“I suppose the only thing we’ve got out of all this is notoriety,” said Neil, who went to school at Denbigh High.

The band claim they were told they won’t be able to return to the US even on a tourist visa and would need to apply for a working visa.

“What is annoying is that we all successfully applied to get an ESTA visa, and Homeland Security let us travel all the way there only to be told we weren’t allowed in,” added Neil.


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