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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Overseas Auditions and Border Control


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If someone is attending a company audition overseas (i.e. outside US in this instance), is there a best practice for describing this to border control upon arrival in a country that doesn't require visas for US travelers? When my husband was sent abroad to do temporary work for his company, he was given guidance by the company about how to phrase this in order not to trigger any red flags. Just curious if others have experience with this for ballet auditions.

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Auditions for what? A job, or further training? I think that can make a difference.


I think that if you're travelling on a visa waiver (as EU citizens do for the US, and US citizens do for the EU) then you need to be clear that you're not going to work, and that you are leaving on a specific date.


I go to the US pretty regularly for work - to attend conferences and other university things - but I have a job in the UK, and I'm clearly only visiting. I am not earning in the US. Coming into JFK or Newark, I always have to know & answer questions about the conferences I'm attending. I'm a middle-aged middle-class white woman, with a professional title, so probably not on the profiling list of "risk" for the US. However, I could imagine that a young person, not an EU citizen, arriving to audition and specifically looking for work in an EU country might be subject to more scrutiny. As I would expect scrutiny if I arrived in the US saying I was coming for a job interview!


So I think it might make a difference - coming into the EU anyway - whether you're travelling to try out for a work opportunity or an educational opportunity. The dancer's "audition tour"** of the EU might be better framed as a holiday, as long as you don't overstay the visa waiver period.


I think you have to be honest, but you don't need to do more than answer questions put to you. Coming into the US, I am sometimes asked several pointed questions, and sometimes just waved through (I still remember one conversation with a Border Security guard when we swapped stories about nightclubs on the lower East Side of Manhattan - I was going to a particularly famous one for a private party that night ...) So you never know what you'll be asked. It's best to have a simple explanation: coming to be seen for an opportunity. And that you have a return ticket on a specific date & airport for leaving.


** Although dancer contracts are now pretty scarce in Europe - it isn't the honeypot for US dancers that it was (if it ever was).

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Thanks, Redbookish. DD's situation is a bit strange. She actually does have a (very possibly expired) UK passport, but will be traveling on her US one. We literally had 2 hours to figure out whether she should even go, and buy her a ticket to fly out her next day (I'm currently one day ahead of her in a different hemisphere to make things even more complicated!) , and for some unknown reason, she doesn't have the UK passport with her, but left it at our family home in a different state. I think it was on the to-do list to renew, before I had to leave the country in a hurry. So yes, we've been caught ill prepared, but then, nor did we think she'd be going anywhere until next calendar year. She only received the invitation to attend company class the same day she had to buy her ticket.


She'll be staying in London for 2 nights and then flying immediately back (her company here in the States is performing in less than 2 weeks). So I'm not sure it will be convincing to say she is just there for a quick look at London. And even though she is dancing in a pro company here, she isn't paid, so doesn't technically have a job here, yet. The invitation to take company class isn't for training purposes (i.e. not for a school or youth company etc.) but for a paid situation. Perhaps I'll suggest the 'coming to be seen for an opportunity' phrase to her.

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If her US passport shows her birthplace as the UK, she'll be fine. I have dual nationality, and in my other passport (which I rarely use), I have a stamp that gives me "Right to Remain" in the UK because I'm actually born-British (not just by accident - family here since 1066 probably!).


She should be fine if she says it's for an audition, and she has a return ticket with a clear return date.


And TOI TOI TOI for your DD!

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LovesLabor, my dd traveled to countries in Europe not requiring visas 2 times in the past year and had no problem with re-entry. Both trips were a week in length though. Her biggest problem with customs came in Canada when she had to leave a summer program there for a return to the states for a weekend wedding. Upon returning to Canada, she came under extra scrutiny. But explaining that she had a wedding ended it quickly. So quick trips may raise extra questions, but in her experience, honestly saying what's you were doing resulted in quick customs passage.

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DD told the border control official that she was there for an audition. She was asked whether she was getting paid for it. When she said, no, she was allowed to enter. Of course, there are as many outcomes as there are immigration officers, but perhaps this will help others in the future.


DD has dual citizenship, but was not born in UK so no mention of it in her US passport.

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