Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram


O-1A Visa Essential Capacity

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Critical or Essential Capacity Editorial:

One of the most common attributes among O-1A aliens of extraordinary ability is that they have worked in a critical or essential capacity for various companies.

In this presentation, we’re going to focus on the O-1A visa category – ‘Critical or Essential Capacity’. The actual official wording of this category is:

Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

Depending on the industry and role, working in a critical or essential capacity could include Creative Directors, Lead Software Architects, Directors of Operations, Heads of Department, Financial Directors, Head Athletics Coaches, etc. In preparing an O-1A visa case, more often that not, we will include ‘Critical Role / Essential Capacity’ category.

To see if this category would apply to you, take a look at your career to date and see what types of leading, critical or essential roles you’ve worked in. It is also important to consider the specific achievements you had in each role. Working in a critical or essential capacity could include leading a team, project management roles, or being responsible for the performance of other people in your organization. O-1A visa adjudicators are looking for examples where your leadership has played an important part of the organization’s function.

Critical or Essential Capacity Commentary:

We work with many O-1A clients who are senior managers in the corporate world, who run important departments and whose leadership skills are counted on daily. We have worked with O-1A visa candidates who were brought in to various companies to trouble shoot their problems and resolve them. We’ve also worked with O-1A candidates who were brought in to help a particular company select the right candidate for a very technical role.

We take a comprehensive look at the work that the alien has done and make an assessment to see how best to show that their profile fits the statutory requirements. Each case is unique as everyone’s journey to the top is unique. Sometimes the biggest obstacle is the client’s own self-disbelief that they truly qualify. Only an experienced O-1A Immigration attorney is best placed to make that objective determination. We will tell you whether you qualify or whether you almost qualify within any given O-1A visa category, and then we’ll work with you so that everything is documented to the standards required by US Immigration.

Distinguished Organizations: It is also very important for any critical role  / essential capacity role being considered within this category of the O-1A visa, to document that the organization has a great reputation in the field and be regarded as being quite distinguished.  Being the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for company that employs ten people and turns over just $200,000 per year is a lot different from being the CFO of a company that employs one thousand people and turns over one hundred million dollars annually. The company of the latter will most certainly have a more distinguished reputation based on its sheer size alone.

In the next presentation, we’re going to review the High Salary category. Once again, we’re so delighted that you found us and hope you enjoy our O-1A visa presentation series. When you’re ready, please email or call us for a free consultation and we can discuss your case and get the ball rolling.



US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
401 Wilshire Boulevard, 12th Floor,
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 442 244 4350

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