Just in Case You Forgot that the US Visa Mess Impacts the Art Community

by Hrag Vartanian on March 18, 2013

When we talk about the benefits of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, most people don’t think about Canadian artists, Brazilian musicians, French video editors, Chinese animators, or Australian mashup artists.

Nick Bertke (aka Pogo) is an Australian mashup artists who has found himself in an unusual predicament, he has received a 10 year ban from entering the United States for not having the proper work and travel visa. Bertke is pleading his case on YouTube, and he is appealing to anyone who will listen to help him rescind the ban. The video has already collected over 800,000 views in four days and has become one of the most viewed videos on the video-sharing service.

In addition to the video, a petition to help his cause at has already collected over 7,000 signatures, and the petition explains their position:

We demand that his ban be rescinded and he be allowed to reapply for the correct visa and enter the United States once again. It is not in the United States’ interest economically nor culturally to ban artists from entering the United States, simply because they have failed to file the correct paper work. A 10 year ban is unjustifiable for such an offense committed. We risk losing the economic and cultural benefits that international artists, like Pogo, bring by visiting the United States.

Bertke’s story is a not exactly the poster child for immigration reform. As someone who has navigated the US work paper and immigration system himself I can’t understand how Bertke thought he was not required to have proper paperwork to work, pay taxes, and travel in and out of the country, but his plight highlights a reality that everyone can agree on, namely that our immigration and visa system is byzantine and unnecessarily complicated.

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  • Jeffrey

    You got your numbers wrong, it only has 6910 signatures. It NEEDS over 90K more. Since the white house raised the number of votes needed before they will use their time about it. Which means that very few make the goal and get the attention needed.

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