By Kisshia Simmons, Esq. and Joanalee Frew
Two temporary work visa categories which aliens may apply for are the O and P visas. Although there are multiple requirements for both visas, we want to focus on one they both have in common. Both O and P visas require advisory opinion letters.
What is an advisory opinion letter?
An advisory opinion letter is an opinion prepared on behalf of the alien or foreign-born individual, recognizing his or her achievements within the field of intended work, in the United States. It is also a letter of recommendation submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in support of the alien’s petition. If the alien meets the standards of what is considered to be extraordinary ability or achievement in his or her industry, the organization is likely to recommend the alien for an O or P visa.
Who can prepare an advisory opinion letter?
In accordance with immigration standards, an advisory opinion letter must be written by either of three organizations: a labor organization, a management organization or a peer group. Because USCIS requires the organization to be geared towards the alien’s field, the employer cannot randomly choose an organization for the advisory opinion letter. The employer’s consulting organization of choice must be one that meets the requirement of having expertise in the alien’s intended field of employment. Generally speaking, only one advisory opinion letter is required in support of the alien petition. However, an alien seeking entry based on his or her extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television productions, must receive an advisory opinion letter from both a labor organization and a management organization. Similarly, the advisory opinion letter submitted to the USCIS, on behalf of a P visa alien, must have been obtained from a labor organization.
What information is taken into consideration by the consulting organization?
Before writing an advisory opinion letter for the alien, the labor or peer group organization will take into consideration any major, internationally-recognized award that the alien has received in previous years. The consulting organization will also take into account any similar national awards, memberships in organizations that are highly regarded in the aliens’ field of work, published articles about the aliens’ extraordinary ability and any other comparable evidence. Other documentation considered by the organization is the I-129 Form (O and P visa petition form), a contract between the employer and the alien and the alien’s detailed resume. The management organization may also request similar documents or evidence.
The fee for requesting an advisory opinion letter is normally between $200 and $300. However, you want to check with the organization for their most up-to-date fees. Some organizations also require the alien to be a member for receipt of an advisory opinion letter. Membership in some cases will require a separate fee.
In closing, we recommend that all the requirements outlined by the consulting organization of choice are carefully followed. This will assist the alien in obtaining a favorable letter of recommendation for his or her O or P visa petition.