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Irish winner kicked off 'American Idol' after visa issue

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An Irish singer who had made it through on 'American Idol' has been kicked off the show after it was found that he did not have the necessary visa to take part.

Keith Semple won a ticket to the final stages of the contest in Hollywood, but show producers later queried his green card status.

"You have to be a permanent resident to enter the show, I was trying frantically to get everything done in time and unfortunately it was a postal error which cost me," said Semple.

"I am extending the visa I already have while applying for my permanent status."

However it was too late for the Larne, Northern Ireland singer and he was booted off.

He had moved to Chicago in 2006 after a band there, 7th Heaven, saw him on a MySpace video and invited him to join them.

"I plan on living in Chicago for good, although I will always come home from time to time." he told the BBC.

"Home will always be Northern Ireland. I love and miss Larne, however, for my music I have no choice but to live in the USA.

"I could never be as busy, or play to as many people or make as good a living back home in the music scene. I have played to twice the population of Northern Ireland since I arrived here."

"The biggest crowd (we have played to) to date has been 62,000 people opening up for Huey Lewis in Chicago, the year before we played to crowds of between 10,000 and 20,000 at festivals almost all summer long."

Semple said he might enter next year's American Idol, but hopes the band makes it before that.

"We could make it that big, any band could. It's nothing to do with the band after a certain point, they can have the talent, the stage presence and the songs, but it's up to the people with the money after that - it's an unfortunate part of the business.

"I have an amazing career here in the USA. I play to more than a million people a year in over 225 shows and make a good living.

"This is all I have ever done since I was 16 and wouldn't ever consider doing anything else, I will go on performing until I am 90."

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