What is an Independent Expert Opinion Letter for the Purposes of the O-1B Visa? How Can I Obtain an Independent Expert Opinion Letter? Who is an Independent Expert?

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As part of your O-1B extraordinary ability visa process, you may obtain expert opinion letters from certain key individuals.  Considering the importance of the letters, it is worth the time and effort to seek expert opinion letters from experts who could independently qualify for the O visa. You should also discuss the content of the expert opinion letter with the writers to increase the chance of approval.  The expert letters are very important evidence to satisfy one of the O-1B criterion specified below:

O-1B applicant “received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements.”

For more information on how to prepare an expert opinion letter, please click here.

At times, USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) in case all of the expert opinion letters submitted in the O-1B petition were from experts who worked directly with or are closely associated with you, stating that such letters cannot provide an unbiased, neutral, objective testimonial about you and your work.

In order to pre-empt or counter this issue, it is normally good to include at least one or two expert opinion letters from an “independent expert”.

Who is an independent expert?

An independent expert can be defined as someone with whom you have no material current or prior business or personal relationship, but loosely speaking, you can view an independent expert as someone with whom you have not worked directly with but may still be familiar with your work, achievement and accomplishments. This may be someone within your field of endeavor that you may already know or it could be someone that you do not know.  One option is that you can  prepare your Resume and portfolio and send it to the expert asking them to review it and thereby provide you with an expert opinion letter containing their objective and unbiased testimonial of your professional qualifications.

By doing so, he or she will be able to comment on a wide range of your professional work and achievements that span across different organizations that you may have worked, as well as other notable career highlights and activities. Regardless of whether an expert is from someone that you have worked with, or an independent expert, all experts should be well-qualified with strong credentials and professional accomplishments, and ideally, be nationally or internationally recognized as experts in the field.

Including an independent expert opinion letter is one of the ways in which you can further strengthen the O-1B petition and thereby increasing the likelihood of success.

Please see our blog post discussing the O-1B visa when you click here.

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