US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective immediately the agency will now accept copies of negative consultation letters directly from labor unions relating to O nonimmigrant visa petition submissions. In general, USCIS requires consultation letters from a US peer group, labor organization, or management organization for O petitions. Usually, the petitioner submits the necessary O visa consultation with the petition. While that requirement remains unchanged, labor unions should now send copies of negative O nonimmigrant consultation letters to UnionConsultationMailbox@uscis.dhs.gov. So that USCIS correctly matches the letters with the appropriate petition, labor unions should include the last five digits of each beneficiary’s passport number in the consultation letters. Labor unions should only send copies of negative consultation letters.
USCIS explains the reasoning behind this change: “Director L. Francis Cissna recently met with several labor unions to discuss concerns they had with the consultation process for O visa petitions, in particular that some advisory opinions may be falsified by petitioners and submitted to USCIS as no-objections or favorable consultations, when in fact these were negative.” After a six month period, USCIS will analyze data collected to determine areas for improvement in the consultation process.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 12, 2019: USCIS has announced that, effective immediately, the agency will begin accepting copies of negative consultation letters directly from labor unions relating to a current or future P nonimmigrant visa petition. Similar to O visa petitions, a consultation letter from a US labor organization is generally required for petitions in the P visa classification, which covers athletes, artists, entertainers, and their essential support personnel. In their announcement, USCIS again indicated there were concerns from labor unions about consultation letters “falsified by petitioners” as the reason for the change. Labor unions should send copies of negative P (or O) nonimmigrant consultation letters to UnionConsultationMailbox@uscis.dhs.gov, and should include the beneficiary’s name and the last five digits of the beneficiary’s passport number on the consultation letter so the letter can be matched with the appropriate petition.