O-1B Testimonial Letters

Testimonial letters are used in both O-1A cases and O-1B cases. However, in  O-1B cases, there is a specific evidentiary criterion called “Significant Recognition” which is typically used for including testimonial letters.

There is a specific evidentiary criterion within the O-1B regulations known as Significant Recognition. To satisfy this criterion, you need to submit some sort of significant recognition from experts in the field, government entities, or an organization.  This criterion can be satisfied with awards, testimonial letters, or some sort of government recognition.

Let’s explore some common questions about the Testimonial Letters:

1.Is there a minimum or maximum amount of letters that you need for the letters?

The answer is no:  you can submit with as little as two or you can submit with as many as 14. There’s absolutely no minimum or maximum number of letters to be submitted.

  1. Do these signers need to be American or based in America?

The answer is no. They can also be international experts. Or they can be Americans who are based abroad, or they can be people who’ve just never been to America.

What is critical to satisfying the criterion is that the signer is an experts within the field, especially the field that you’re applying for your field of endeavor.

  1. Can I use a former professor?

The answer is yes. However, If a professor’s career is solely in academia then perhaps he/she is not up to date on best pratices and industry standards. This lack of knowledge and practical experience may diminish the experience of the professor.

  1. Who writes the testimonial letters?

The answer is both the attorney, client, and signer. This is the surest way to ensure factual accuracy and personalization and inclusion of the signer’s voice. Testimonial letters are quite important to the petition and serve as a tool to educate the officer on the field of endeavor.

A strong testimonial letter includes information about the field of endeavor, background information on the signer, and very specific details about the achievements to be discussed.

Cllient insight is key to really understand the impact of the client’s contribution to a specific project.

  1. What is the format of a testimonial letter?

The answer is: background information on the signer and specific details on the achievement being discussed, identifiable details about your contribution,  or your leadership on a project.

It’s important to remember that testimonial letters for the O-1 visa tend to not be similar to testimonial letters which you have used to secure employment or to submit to university. In the non O-1 world, the testimonial letters tend to not be so specific about a person and tend to focus on qualities of a person like positive traits of a person, as opposed to focusing on specific achievements and accomplishments and contributions, which is what the letter needs to contain, to satisfy the criteria.

What the officer is really looking for within those letters is your specific contribution, like the expertise that you have demonstrated, working on a specific project or for a specific company.  So these are difficult to do if you don’t have a strong understanding of the field. That’s why it’s very important when you’re selecting your attorney to really spend time understanding whether or not your attorney even understands the field that you’re working in. Because if he or she doesn’t, then drafting those letters is going to be a little bit complex.

Elektra Yao is the managing attorney and founder of Yao Law Group. She loves working with artists and is a recognized leader for O-1 visas. Visit yaolawgroup.com for more information.

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