O-1 Visas

About O-1 Visas

What is an O-1 visa?

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for those individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

Writers of motion pictures, television, new media, and broadcast and digital news programs seeking O-1 visas to the U.S. are required by the Department of Homeland Security to submit opinion letters from Writers Guild of America, East on the suitability of their request.

How do I obtain an O-1 visa?

To qualify for an O-1 visa in writing, the applicant must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in their field. Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services site to review the qualifications.

To obtain an O-1 Visa from the United States, petitioners are required to contact the labor union with jurisdiction over work they seek to perform to obtain an advisory opinion—also called a consultation letter—on whether the visa should be granted. Click here for more information about Writers Guild of America, East’s jurisdiction.

Consultation Letters

What is an O-1 consultation letter?

A consultation letter becomes part of the underlying petition and is submitted by the petitioner to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) for review. Petitions for O-1 and O-2 visas must be accompanied by consultation letters from a designated U.S. peer group or labor organization. 

For which positions does the Writers Guild of America, East provide consultation letters?

The WGAE will provide a consultation letter requested by an applicant for any person seeking to enter the United States to perform the duties of a writer. These positions may be for feature films, documentaries, television programs, news programs, animation, or content for new-media technologies. Refer to the Guild’s Jurisdiction page for more information.

What is included in a consultation letter from the Writers Guild of America, East?

After the WGAE reviews the application and evidence provided to it by a petitioner, the Guild will issue a consultation letter that contains one of three possible responses:  the WGAE may 1) endorse a petition, 2) object to a petition, or 3) issue a “no objection.”  Because federal regulations require the WGAE to support an objection with specific facts, objection letters from the Guild often include detailed information about why the application did not satisfy the applicable evidentiary criteria or is otherwise deficient.

What evidence should I provide to the Writers Guild of America, East (in addition to the petition) when requesting a consultation letter?

For O-1 petitions, provide all evidence necessary to establish that the beneficiary satisfies the applicable evidentiary criteria.  The WGAE bases its advisory opinions on actual evidence, not on conclusory statements in a cover letter or other document.  Petitioners should also submit information about the specific event or production on which the beneficiary will be employed, along with evidence justifying the requested validity period.

For petitioners acting as agents, please provide a complete itinerary of all events, including the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the establishments, venues or locations where services will be performed, and deal memos or contracts with each employer described in the itinerary.  Agents should also provide evidence sufficient to establish they are authorized to act on behalf of both the beneficiary and proposed U.S. employers.

For O-2 petitions based on a long-standing working relationship, provide evidence of the length and nature of the working relationship between the O-1 and O-2 beneficiaries.  For O-2 petitions based on continuity of production, provide evidence that significant production has commenced abroad and that the requested O-2 aliens have been sufficiently involved in that production such that their continuing participation is essential to its successful completion.

Where should I send my request for a consultation letter?

All requests should be submitted to Ann Burdick, Director of Legal Services. Your request should include your petition and all supporting/supplementary documentation.

You can send your request via email to aburdick@wgaeast.orgor via regular mail:

Writers Guild of America, East
Attn: Ann Burdick, Director of Legal Services
250 Hudson Street, Suite 700
New York, NY 10013

What does the Writers Guild of America, East charge for consultation letters?

The WGAE does not charge a fee for providing an advisory opinion. If you submit a form of payment with your petition, it will be returned to you. 

How quickly will I receive a consultation letter from the Writers Guild of America, East?

There is no specific time in which a consultation letter is issued, though the WGAE attempts to issue a consultation letter within one week of receiving a fully documented request. However, some petitions require additional information and therefore may take longer to review. 

Can I have my consultation letter expedited?

The WGAE does not have a process for expediting consultation letters; it responds to requests in the order they are received. 

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

Please contact Ann Burdick at aburdick@wgaeast.org, or 212-767-7844.

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