What is Involved in an O-1 Visa Petition?

There are many components that make up an O-1 visa petition, most of which your O-1 immigration attorney should be able to prepare and some which will require to be prepared by you. While there are many parts, we outline some of the key components that are typically involved in every O-1 petition. “The O-1 Preparation Process” describes the 10 simplified steps towards preparing the O-1. Below, we discuss the components involved within steps 3 to 6 in further detail –

Sponsor: A single employer can sponsor the foreign worker to work full or part time for the employer, which means you are only legally authorized to work for that employer on the O-1, or alternatively, an agent can sponsor you if you wish to work for more than one employer. While USCIS further distinguishes the different types of roles the agent can take on, it is important to decide early on the type of sponsorship that best suits your needs. For some, it may not be a choice, but for others, it may involve having a discussion with your potential employer(s) about these different kinds of arrangements.

Employer Contract – There should be written evidence that an agreement exists between you and a US employer seeking to employ you while in the United States. The relationship can be employer-employee or client-independent contractor.

Itinerary – Under the O-1 visa, you are coming to the United States to pursue work within your designated field of ability or achievement. The itinerary or work plan must demonstrate this intent and lay out a series of work commitments related to your field. The work cannot be merely speculative in nature, and thus, a fair amount of detail, including name, contact person and contact number of the employer, job scope, and time period of each project would usually be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the itinerary.

Consultation – For the purposes of USCIS regulations, a “consultation” is defined as “a written advisory opinion from a peer group or person with expertise in the beneficiary’s area of ability”. For most common professions, there will exist an appropriate professional board that can evaluate and issue such a written opinion.

Recommendation Letters – The O-1 visa recommendation letter is a crucial part of the petition. Support letters should represent your accomplishments and achievements, and explain how you have been recognized and acknowledged for them within your field of expertise. Ideally, we ask that you try to obtain at least seven, but this number can vary depending on each petition. Below is a basic guideline as to what should be contained within each letter:


Introduction – Basis of Expertise:

First and foremost, the letter must establish the writer’s expertise or authority by outlining his/her professional achievements and background. The writer should ideally be someone who is an expert or familiar with the beneficiary’s field and his/her work. The writer should establish how he has come to “now the applicant and came to be familiar with his/her work.

Professional Accomplishments:

The examiners are interested in the extent of the accomplishments and recognition that the applicant has attained thus far, and how the applicant’s work sets him/her apart from others. This is probably the most important section, so it is very important provide as much detail as is possible with specificity. This might include awards, sales figures, sales figures, client/collaborative partner names, etc. Any specific projects the writer worked on together with the applicant or is familiar with should also be mentioned within this section.

Talent & Skills:

 Around one or two sentences maximum should describe the applicant’s talents and/or skills. However, it is important to note that USCIS dislike letters that over-emphasize on talents and/or skills alone. Rather, the above section relating to accomplishments and recognitions should be the main focus. Naturally, a mentioning of the applicant’s talents and skills, i.e. abilities, can be included but should not be the main part of the letter.


Any other comments that might help to establish the extent to which the beneficiary has extraordinary ability in her field. If not, a short concluding statement containing the writer’s contact details is usually sufficient for this section.


How Long Does it Take to Receive a Determination on the O-1 Visa Petition?

The petition can be filed up to 1 year prior to the anticipated date of travel to the United States. The petition must be filed a minimum of 45 days prior to the date of intended travel. If already in the U.S. on another type of non-immigrant visa such as an F-1 or J-1, the USCIS must receive the petition before the applicant’s legal status expires. However, it is a good idea to plan well in advance and file well before your status ends.

It can take anything from 2-4 months for USCIS to issue a determination on an O-1 petition. Alternatively, for a fee of $1,410, you have the option to file via premium processing, which will have the petition reviewed within 15 calendar days from the date of receipt.

Should you wish to learn more about the O-1 visa and whether you qualify for one, contact us at 718-539-1100 or info@jckimlaw.com.