O Visa Consultation Letters
Author: US Visa Attorney Alena Shautsova
To receive an O visa in the US, a petition by a potential employer has to be approved. O-1 and O-2 nonimmigrant visas are available to individuals with extraordinary ability in science, education, business, athletics, or the arts, and individuals with extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, and certain essential support personnel. A consultation letter from a U.S. peer group, labor organization, and/or management organization is generally required for petitions in the O visa classification. As a part of the approval process, the employer has to reach out to the designated union/organization and request an opinion: if this union agrees that the subject of the petition is deserving to work in the US in a particular field. Not all the fields, by the way, have such unions. For example, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), issues consultation letters for artists and groups in which instrumentalists make up least 50% of the personnel. Other unions issue consultation letters for artists such as dancers, actors, stage managers, stage technicians, operatic singers, and writers.
In the past, it was the petitioner’s job to reach out to the union and collect the letter/recommendation which could have been positive or “no objections” or negative.
Recently, due to the fraud concerns, USCIS determined that negative consultation opinions must be sent by the unions to USCIS directly. It is an important change in the process of obtaining an O visa. This new procedure affects only negative letters, not the positive consultations.