We have sample recommendation letters in our guides but we need you to have this information upfront as we receive messages from artists starting their visa journey – “I’ve got 10 Recommendation Letters already what else do I need?”
We need you to HOLD UP and understand this – recommendation letters have more weight than most artists can fathom. They can make or break an application. There should be no single Eb1 or O1 recommendation letter sample or template as each letter should serve a separate purpose. What the USCIS don’t need is an unfocused reference letter that’s a general endorsement of the your character, knowledge and skills.
All recommendation letters should:
- be written on headed paper
- be dated
- contain a greeting such as ‘Dear USCIS’ or ‘Dear Examiner’
- have a brief introduction of the letter writers accolades
- tell how the writer knows the artist
- *detail how the artist is extraordinary
- most importantly be signed
- be accompanied with a bio of the referee or proof of the notability of the organization
The letter is much more than a ‘recommendation’ or a ‘reference letter’ it is a testimonial. Remember, you don’t submit a portfolio, the USCIS officers don’t watch your showreel. They look to these letters for a valued opinion on your work.
So, who should you approach for a letter in support of your petition? It should be from a person of merit in your field. It should seem like it’s a big deal that they have taken time out of their day to write about how you are worthy of a visa. Their opinion should matter. To prove they are important your letter should be accompanied by a short biography of the referee and/or the organization they represent, if it is reputable.
Quotes from these letters can be pasted into your cover/petition letter to support your extraordinary ability (extraordinary achievement if applying for the O1 MPTV visa) claims.
The *how the artist is extraordinary is the integral part of the recommendation letter. We encourage our guide users to wait until you have decided on the criteria you will be applying under before you approach letter writers. Knowing this will save your letters from being generic drivel and they will instead offer an opportunity to strengthen your application with succinct and appropriate testimonies.
From the users of our guides experience the average letter count is 6 – 8 letters. You can have as many Recommendation letters as you wish. There is no limit. However, to not waste the USCIS officers time discern how many letters you NEED. More is not better in this instance. The amount of letters that artists submit are determined case by case. If you are submitting under 4 criteria, for example, you may have a letter supporting each.
AVOID: An ordinary referral letter uses language such as “X is always punctual and works well in a team” – this is not that type of letter.
AVOID: Phrases that suggest that “X is a rising star, has great potential” – these letters should talk of the present and past achievements as they should be of the mindset that X is already “extraordinary” and has “risen to the top of their field.”
The referrer should already be aware of you and your talent as you are claiming ‘national or international recognition’.
AVOID: The USCIS have been known to verify letters of Recommendation. This is prevalent in the Australian artist applications as there were disreputable agents receiving payments in lieu of positive letters and contracts of work. You should never need to pay for a letter. They should be written enthusiastically by your referee.
We hope you now understand why you should never get your recommendation letters at the beginning of your application but when you are fully aware of what your application looks like, what criteria that you are applying under, and what evidence is lacking or needs bolstering by this letter.
If you liked this article then you will love our guides. In our EB1 and in our O1 visa guides we have fully decoded the recommendation letter and provide example wording of recommendation letters supporting each criteria. Many artists are successfully living and working in the USA because of them. Understanding exactly what the USCIS needs to see is the key to success especially if you are self filing your application.
Recommendation Letter Questions
The recommendation letter is an important testament in the eyes of the USCIS. A job offer here from a respected peer in your field offering you work is certainly given extra weight.
USCIS officers do not have time to google every fact of your case and so it is important that you provide all the information they need. Either print their bio from an online source (not Wikipedia) or ask that they provide one for you. If they are from a reputable institution, especially a government organization, include background information of that too.
To be considered as evidence it is best practice that all testimonial letters be signed and dated.
From the users of our guides experience the average is 6 – 8 letters per application.