The letters of recommendation plays a crucial role in the O1 visa application process. It could be the final important layer of the case that wins you O1 status by showing that you have received significant recognition for achievement. The letters of recommendation for the O1 is different from one you may receive from an employer when seeking a new job. It will highlight key aspects of your experience, accomplishments, and extraordinary abilities and will clearly indicate the recommenders authority in your field.
Who to ask for a letter?
The author of the letters doesn’t necessarily have to come from your home country. He or she can be from anywhere in the world. If you are an actor, the letters could come from a fellow actor, director, producer, etc. However, the recommender doesn’t have to be in your field of expertise. Though, they will need to be an authority on your extraordinary abilities. They will need to testify to your abilities through either their work in a related field or by detailed knowledge of your career. The best people to ask will be your clients (former or current), employers, curators, collaborators, even friends. Though, when it comes to asking a friend for a letter, make sure that he or she can truly testify to your abilities. A lifetime friend, for instance, may not be the best authority to your professional experience in the same way a boss or a client might. In the case of a musician, they may ask a friend to write them a letter and their friend may write they are amazing and he or she listens to their album everyday. That’s great, but may not be sufficient for the government to grant them an O1 visa. Instead, the musician may want to seek out letters from a band manager, professional critic, or music producer. This notion also goes for professors. Try to limit the number of professors to one to two, as the USCIS is mostly interested in professional experience rather than your education.
How many letters?
When applying to a university, for instance, the institution may ask for a minimum of three letters of recommendation in order to qualify. Contrarily, for the O1 visa application, there’s no magic number for the amount of letters you need to submit. It’s highly recommended that you obtain anywhere from five to ten letters, but in the case of these letters, it’s quality over quantity. Five or six very strong letters of recommendation (ones from very reputable employers or notable clients) will build a stronger case than eight or nine relatively weak letters from say your friends or professors. Your O1 visa sponsor will be able to help you sift through your letters and pick the strongest ones for your case.
How to present the letters of recommendation
Once the letters are written, they will need to be printed on letterhead. The authors will also need to date and sign the letters. Regarding the signature, it doesn’t have to be an original signature done by pen and hand. A photocopy of the original will work fine here. Additionally, the recommenders should also include a resume or a succinct bio of themselves attached to the letter. This can be a short “about me” page to supplement the letters of recommendation so that the government can get a complete image of who the recommenders are and why their opinion should matter in regards to granting the applicant an O1 visa status.