How to draft the perfect Expert Opinion Letters for your O-1 Visa application process

January 6, 2020 by Prabalta Rijal

While filing for the extraordinary ability visa (O-1, EB-1, and NIW)  it is important to prove to the USCIS that you are an expert in your field and an individual who has done extraordinarily well in your line of work.  So, it becomes extremely important to obtain expert opinion letters (also known as letters of recommendation) from key individuals who preferably have not worked with you but do know your work and achievements and have the authority to speak about your work and its credibility and impact in the industry. The USCIS generally requires four to five letters to be filed with your petition in order to establish that you are one of the small percentages who has arisen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

So, if you are planning to submit the recommendation letters your manager and colleagues drafted for you then you may have to think a hundred times before you do that.

Who qualifies as an Expert for the O-1 Visa Application Process?

The letters should ideally be from people who are nationally or internationally recognized as experts in their field. It would make your case even stronger if they are from famous people who have made significant contributions to your sector and or have won reputable and prestigious awards and are not affiliated to you or the company you work for. However, since this is not always possible you can ask for the letters your professors, past employers, colleagues, clients, critics, and editors, etc., if only they show a record of prominence in your field. 

Things to consider before asking an Expert to write an O-1 Visa letter for you:

Providing well-written letters of recommendation that are specific about the contributions that the applicant has made from the renowned experts adds value to the case. According to the legal consultants at PassRight, the most challenging part for clients is usually finding a renowned expert who is willing to sign the letter for them, as the experts may not really be well aware of all their accomplishments or may not know them at a personal level so they may not be comfortable to shoulder the responsibility, so the applicant may have to explain it to the expert that it is only for immigration purposes and will not be used otherwise.

What information should the O-1 Visa letters include:

The letters of recommendation should explain the expert’s accomplishments, it should state how the writer learned about your achievements and should be able to explain why you as the applicant have extraordinary abilities in your field of endeavor. The letter should give a clear view of the O-1 criteria you meet. It should explain in detail your original contribution to your field, the significance of your prizes and awards, membership in distinguished organizations, etc.

In other words, as an esteemed insider in your field, the expert should be able to vouch for you and the importance of your accomplishments in the sector.

What should the O-1 Visa Expert Opinion Letter look like?

Introduction: The letter should generally start with the name and a brief introduction of him/herself in a sentence or two. The expert can also give a one-sentence overview of the person they are recommending.

Check the example Of the O-1 Visa letter below:

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As we can see from this example the letter first establishes the recommender’s expertise and professional achievements and background. The writer also establishes that he or she is aware of the applicant’s work.

The expert needs to discuss the work done by the applicant, the accomplishments and achievements they derived from this work. It should describe at least 2-3 significant accomplishments that they are most familiar with. Also, just one or two sentences about the contribution aren’t enough, a descriptive narration about the specific contribution and its importance is necessary as the USCIS tends to push back content that does not focus on that. So, the recommender should focus on the achievements and accomplishments and why they are important to their sector. 

This section should also talk about other information that is required to demonstrate the applicant’s extraordinary ability in any of the specific criteria they are petitioning for. For instance, it can talk about their membership with respectable organizations in the field, their participation on a panel as a judge, their original contributions and so forth.

Conclusion: 

The conclusion should provide a clear summary of the reasons why the applicant has extraordinary abilities in his or her line of work. The recommender should also provide his contact details.

Now that you know you have a general idea about how your Expert Opinion letter should look like, go ahead and contact us for further information.