USCIS Targets O-1 Visa Applicants Through Labor Unions

This morning, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin accepting copies of negative consultation letters directly from labor unions relating to a current or future O nonimmigrant visa petition request.

O1 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 a requirement for petitions in the O visa classification.

USCIS provides a detailed list of existing unions and peer groups who have agreed to provide consultations. Typically, a petitioner submits the necessary O visa consultation with the petition, and that process requirement remains unchanged. However, USCIS claims that petitioners could be falsifying the consultation letter that they receive from unions and peer groups. Hence, the labor unions will now be able to send a copy of a negative consultation letter to USCIS so that it can be compared to the consultation letter submitted to USCIS by the petitioner.

O visa petitioners and their attorneys should continue to submit the consultation letter with the visa petition. The consultation letter may be waived for O-visa petitioner with extraordinary ability in the field of arts if the petition filed on their behalf is for similar services within two years of the date of a previous consultation. This generally means working for the same employer in the same profession. Petitioners in this situation should submit a waiver request and a copy of the previous consultation with the petition.

Union consultations are just one part of the complex O visa process and with labor unions acting in tandem with USCIS to issue unfavorable letters, the process may become even harder for O visa petitioners.

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