Los Angeles Times: "'Roma' actor Jorge Guerrero has been denied visas to the U.S. — and might miss the Oscars"

by Joseph McKeown

Jose Antonio Guerrero Martínez, an actor in the celebrated movie Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and nominated for ten Academy Awards, has not been able to secure a visa to enter the US to attend screenings and other industry events in the US, according to an interview he gave in the Mexican lifestyle magazine, Quién. Guerrero says he has been denied visas to the US on three separate occasions. Recently, the actor even submitted a letter from director Cuarón and Netflix (the production company behind Roma) as evidence that he had official invitations to appear in the US. The actor states that on his second attempt, the officials denied the visa on an assumption that Guerrero was coming to the US to work, and not only to attend events he was invited for. The actor alleges on various mediums that officials did not even read the letters provided by the actor.

There are several visa options for TV and film actors and performers. As we discuss in a separate post, in certain circumstances, foreign nationals may use the B visitor visa or enter under the visa waiver program to “do research for a film or television project, attend award shows, negotiate a contract for production, participate in business meetings in connection with ongoing employment abroad, or scout locations for a future shoot.”  For trips of this kind, it is useful to bring along supplementary material evidencing the purpose of the trip. Any actual productive work on a film or TV production beyond these capacities would more than likely require a US work visa. 

Guerrero, who plays Fermín—a love interest of Academy Award Best Actress nominee Yalitzia Aparicio’s protagonist character, Cleo—might miss the February 24th Academy Awards altogether. Indeed, a Netflix spokesperson told The L.A. Times that the streaming service and the film’s producers have been actively working to get Guerrero a visa in time for the Oscars. Cuarón, in the meantime, has been sharing media stories about the denial on his Twitter feed.

This is not the first time an Academy Awards nominee has faced obstacles entering the US. Talal Derki, a Syrian national and the director of the Oscar-nominated documentary short, Of Fathers and Sons, was initially denied a visa, but was later approved. Leading up to the 2017 Oscars ceremony, it was unclear if Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of The Salesman, would be permitted to travel to the US.  Rather than embarking on the potentially fruitless visa application process after President Trump’s travel ban was issued, Farhadi chose not to attend the event in protest, stating: “Dividing the world into the us and the enemy categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for regression and war.

Despite the difficulty, the Roma actor told Mexican daily, El Universal, that he does not, however, feel “offended, angry or victimized,” noting that plenty of other Mexicans have visas denied. He is instead hopeful that his visa situation will be resolved and insists that even if he doesn’t go, he’s still thrilled for the success of the movie, noting that “it’s 10 nominations, darn it. This doesn’t happen every year!