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EB1/O1 Petition/Cover Letter

Your petition letter is the backbone of your application used to compile your evidence and present a complete and compelling image of your career. Formatted correctly it simplifies the adjudication of your application and can increase your chances of approval.

The petition letter should be factual, written to support your extraordinary ability case to the USCIS.  This is the legal argument portion of your application. Your petition letter is your opportunity to present and prove the relevance of your career achievements, linking them in ways to best suit your petition.

The structure is as follows:

  • short one page cover letter

    • dated
    • full return address
    • Subject line with the name of visa you are applying for
    • Greeting
    • Explain your current visa status or if you have had visas previously
    • Thank them for their time
    • here you can mention any stage names you have worked under
    • list of forms and fees included
    • list any ‘Special Considerations’
    • signed by you if self sponsored
    • the O-1 petition should be signed by your sponsor(petitioner) and have their name and address but you listed as the beneficiary
  • Then the longer continuation known often as the Memorandum in support of a Petition

    • Short biography where you factually present your career
    • here you can also mention any stage names you have worked under
      briefly chat about accolades
    • add lines from recommendation letters and reviews if appropriate
    • Each criterion that you are submitting under argued bolstered by the evidence you are providing, recommendation letters and upcoming work
    • each criterion should be argued separately
    • Short conclusion

As all your claims in this letter will be backed up with your evidence (newspaper articles etc.), ‘extensive documentation’ as the USCIS calls it, it is best presented with an Index of Exhibits. This helps the examiner quickly find the referring evidence. The key to any government application is being thorough and methodical.

The key to a successful petition letter is to keep it factual and succinct. This is not a prose exercise – your examiner doesn’t have time for flowery language. It’s not necessary to use the thesaurus. Keep it simple and assertive.

This is not a time to be shy – as this is a paper application the USCIS never look at the quality of your work as a critic but rather through the eyes of your peers and critics that you present in your case. You will never submit a ‘portfolio’ only the requested evidence. It is an explanation letter that tells the story of who you are as an artist.

Choose to write the EB-1 letter in the first person or third person, all O visa letters, however, should be written in third person as they are sponsored visas.

Make it easy for your USCIS officer to approve you.

On that note don’t make it easy for them to deny you, too. A short conclusion will mean the examiner will be required to read your application.

In your story you can add pertinent information eg if applying as an actor but previously you had a career as an engineer you can mention that in passing but if you won an engineering award you shouldn’t submit that under ‘Awards’ as it is not within the field that you intend to earn a visa in. Try keep your application relevant to your specialty.

We have decoded the letter formula and provide samples of petition letters in our guides – but we do more that providing two in the EB1 and two in the O1 visa we break down each criteria so you can build your own. Many artists are successfully living and working in the USA because of them. Understanding exactly what the USCIS needs to see is the key especially if you are DIYing your application. We give you everything you need to self file.

If you are applying using an attorney we beg that you read your petition letter before it is submitted on your behalf – read Reasons Why Denied Rejected.

How long are EB-1 O1 petition letters?

If you qualify under the “One Time Award” your petition letter should be no more than 5 pages. If you are satisfying more than 3 criteria, for the experience of artists using our guides the petition letter average page length is 22.