O1A Visa Organizations
O1A Visa Organizations criteria is met if the applicant has been employed in a critical capacity for organizations that have a distinguished reputation. This law has (4) parts to meet this criteria which include Applicant has been employed, in a critical capacity, for an organization, with a distinguished reputation.
When deciding whether an applicant meets this criteria, it is important to consider the following information for any organizations or companies you have worked for in your field. Dates of Employment, Job Title, and Company.
You can match up the law as follows:
Applicant has been employed = = > Dates of Employment
In a critical capacity = = > Job Title
For an organization = = > Company
With a distinguished reputation = = > Company
This category proves match-up (1), the applicant has been employed in a critical capacity for organizations which have a distinguished reputation. This category also goes to the overall criteria of “being at the top of your field”. The USCIS is looking to see that the employment was in the past, and for a reasonable amount of time. What is reasonable would be determined by the circumstances of the job.
In terms of “being at the top of your field”, USCIS officers are looking for people who have a long but steady incline of success, and are applying while at the very top. Ideally, you would have several instances of employment at organizations, steadily getting more and more “distinguished”, with the most recent being in the past six months. In reality, that’s quite rare, and USCIS will usually take what they can get. You can prove this by putting dates of the events in the application. For example, if you worked for Broadway, great. But if you only worked there for a week and then quit, not so great.
This category proves match-up (2), the applicant has been employed in a critical capacity for organizations which have a distinguished reputation. Being a lead in a performance on stage is fairly simple, but for other professions, it becomes more complicated. Critical capacity means that you were so important the product would have been drastically altered by your absence. A good way to test for critical capacity is to think- if your job title/ role was eliminated, would the project still work? Another way would be- are there people in the project who do the same thing as you, but aren’t as senior? This would show what USCIS is ultimately looking for, that you have “risen to the top”. Unfortunately, there are some job fields that just don’t fit this criteria. USCIS knows and has acknowledged this, and their answer is that, if your job doesn’t fit into specific criteria, then you should probably try to fit in all the others. Not very helpful. You can prove this by an explanation of your duties, and how they are critical to the organization should suffice. For example, using the tests we outlined above, let’s go through some examples.
Test 1: If your job title/ role was eliminated, would it work?
A CEO works in a critical capacity.
Accountant #4 does not work in a critical capacity.
Test 2: Are there people in the project who do the same thing as you, but aren’t as senior?
Head advertising chair works in a critical capacity.
Staff advertiser does not work in a critical capacity.
This category proves match-up (3), the applicant has been employed in a critical capacity for organizations which have a distinguished reputation. For Distinguished Reputation appears to be a phrase that USCIS has invented, and isn’t interested in explaining. It’s very vague, even by USCIS standards, and the way it’s applied to many different categories for different purposes makes it’s meaning even more confusing. All we know is, they consider organizations that are mentioned in major media and/ or make a lot of money to have “distinguished reputations”. Proving that an organization has a lot of press is the easiest checkbox you’ll get in terms of O-1A Visa applications. I use LexisNexis Media searches, but there are many comparable search engines that one could use. Once you pull up all the media on the organization, you want to focus on “major media”. Newspapers > Blogs, the higher the circulation the better.
Proving that an organization has made money is a little bit trickier. One thing is showing how old it is. If an organization isn’t successful/ profitable, it’s not going to last very long. The longer the organization has been in business, the better. There are sometimes also reports that show the profit of an organization. For example, Coca-Cola is a very famous organization with a lot of press.
This criteria is a level 3 difficulty. The hardest part is proving not just that you worked for a distinguished organization, but did so in a critical capacity.