Who Should I Ask to Write My O-1 Reference Letters? What Should I Include in My O-1 Reference Letters? How Many Reference Letters Do I Need to Submit with My O-1 Petition?

By March 30, 2018January 17th, 2019Extraordinary Ability

One of the most important components of a successful O-1 petition is the submission of reference letters from experts in the beneficiary’s field of extraordinary ability. In fact, they form the backbone of many O-1 petitions, as the expert writers of these letters can address how the beneficiary meets any of the other O-1 criteria. For more information about O-1 requirements, please click here.

Despite the critical role they play in O-1 petitions, reference letters are often the most daunting to prepare for many O-1 applicants, especially when they do not have enough information about what the process entails. Here, we will break down some of the factors that make for a strong reference letter.

Who Should Write the Letter?

The O-1 reference letter should be written by a recognized expert in the beneficiary’s field of expertise. For example, an O-1 applicant who is an extraordinary fashion designer should obtain reference letters from other fashion designers who are at the top of the field. This person should ideally have many years of experience, as well as an impressive list of accomplishments, including awards, honors, recognitions, publications, career background, and/or prestigious clients. Often a letter write would be eligible for an O-1 visa if there were to apply.

What Information Should the Letter Contain?

The letter should contain a certification of the writer’s opinion that you are an individual who has achieved national or international recognition as an individual of extraordinary ability in your field with concrete examples to back up this opinion.

In addition, the letter should contain an introduction of the writer, establishing him/her as an expert in the field. It should list his/her current position, as well as all of his/her major accomplishments, such that the immigration officer would be convinced that he/she may authoritatively judge whether someone has extraordinary ability.

The letter should also contain an explanation of how the writer knows you and your work, and describe in detail, and in factual terms, specific projects that you have completed that demonstrates your extraordinary abilities, skills, and knowledge. On the other hand, a letter containing general praise without specificity will not be helpful to your O-1 petition.

How Many Letters Should I Submit?

USCIS advises O-1 applicants to submit 4-6 reference letters.

Working with an experienced immigration attorney who is well-versed in helping clients obtain successful O-1 reference letters may help you overcome the legal hurdles involved with preparing them.

An experienced immigration attorney may also help you explore other immigration options for which you may be eligible, such as an E-2, H-1B, or L-1B.

To find out more about the new rules or other investor visas, contact Scott Legal, P.C.


Ian E. Scott, Esq. is the Founder of Scott Legal, P.C. He can be reached at 212-223-2964 or by email at info@legalservicesincorporated.com.

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