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EB1A - Evaluating Your Leading and Critical Roles

Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations

The purpose of this post is to provide tools that help you evaluate whether you could make an argument that you satisfy the 8th of the 10 EB-1A criteria, that you have evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.

The leading or critical role in a distinguished organization bullet is a commonly utilized criteria for EB-1A applicants. This category is likely popular as it applies to many EB-1 applicants. The logic goes, if you are extraordinary in your field of expertise then an organization will be employing you in a position commensurate with your talent and ability.

Using the plain language of the regulation, there are two parts to this criteria: (1) evidence you performed a leading or critical role; (2) evidence that the role you performed was for a distinguished organization. USCIS officer’s reviewing EB-1A applications are going to be trying to measure the impact and value you add to your organization.

Be careful in how you explain your impact and value. USCIS adjudicators are not going to understand your job duties, assignments, etc. so it is vital that you provide evidence and explanations clearly showing what you have done and how it impacted your field and your organization. You get to be the author of the story you present to USCIS. You may run a critical function of your organization, manage a team of extraordinary people, design critical internal tools, negotiate contracts, or more! Whatever your role is, you need to begin preparing evidence to clearly show it is critical or leading.

If arguing your role is leading, this will usually be apparent by the title of the position, its overall place in the company hierarchy, your duties, and your subordinates. If arguing your role is critical, you will be focusing more on the impact your role has on the organization.

In evaluating the leading or critical nature of your role, USCIS officer’s may ask questions such as the following:

  • Is the role leading?

  • Is the role critical?

  • Have you performed more than 1 leading or critical role?

  • Is the role leading or critical to the whole organization or part of the organization?

  • Who have you led?

  • Where do you fall in the organization’s hierarchy?

  • Were you in charge of a team?

  • As part of a team, what did you accomplish that could be considered extraordinary?

  • What projects did you manage or complete?

  • Are you responsible for the performance of other people in the organization?

  • What have your subordinates accomplished?

  • How much value have you added to the organization?

  • Were the duties you performed critical to the overall success of the company?

  • What work do you perform?

  • Are your duties above those of ordinary workers?

  • Is the role charged with assigning and managing work?

  • What is your impact on the organization?

  • What tasks or projects have been assigned to you?

  • Is there something you did for the organization or your team no one else was doing that added value?

Not only will the officer reviewing your case question your role, but they will also question the prestige of the organization you performed the role for. In evaluating the distinguished nature of the organization[s] you held a leading or critical role for, the USCIS adjudicator reviewing your case may ask questions such as the following:

  • Is the organization distinguished?

  • Is the organization well known?

  • How long has the organization been in existence?

  • What is the organization's reputation?

  • How many employees does the organization have?

  • What is the organization worth?

  • Is the organization known globally?

  • How much control does the organization have over an industry?

In building your EB-1A profile, start thinking creatively of what evidence you can use to show your impact and the distinguished nature of those who you worked for. Here are some examples of evidence that could work to show USCIS your contributions to a company are leading or extraordinary:

  • Evidence of your leadership position and title

  • Evidence regarding your job duties and responsibilities

  • Newspaper, journal, or other publications written about your role or project at the organization

  • Official company organization charts

  • Award[s] you have received from your organization

  • Internal company newsletters featuring you or your accomplishments

  • Evidence of your high salary

  • Emails discussing projects, accomplishments, etc.

  • Presentation[s]

  • Report[s]

  • Testimonial letters from higher ups

  • Critical project evidence

  • Client letter[s]/testimonial[s] (speaking about your role in forming a contract, your services, your participation, etc.)

  • Evidence of signatory authority for important documents such as contracts

  • Signed letter[s] from a qualified higher up (the higher the better, letters signed by CEOs, VPs, etc. are typically stronger than other letters)

    • The letter[s] should include the following if possible:

      • Name of signatory

      • Explanation of their role at the organization

      • Explanation of why the applicant is in a leading or critical role

      • Company letterhead (not necessary, but a lot more persuasive)

      • Statement regarding the value of:

        • Important projects you have completed

        • Date and locations of projects

        • Your role

        • Internal projects you have worked on

        • Your overall benefit to the organization

        • Etc.

Here are some examples of evidence that could work to show USCIS that the organization[s] you performed a critical or leading role for are distinguished:

  • Press snippet[s] talking about the organization

  • Award[s] the organization has received

  • Evidence of an organization's presence worldwide

  • Stock listing

  • Evidence regarding the number of employees

  • Forbes ranking

  • Crunchbase information

  • Evidence of humanitarian accomplishments of the organization

  • Organization’s online biographic page

  • Evidence showing the level of difficulty to obtain a position at the organization

In some cases, only a few items would be needed for a good application. In other cases, you will find you need to provide more information to create a clear picture of your accomplishments. Each EB-1A applicant is unique and deserves a unique approach to their individual application. For now, it is useful for you to consider what evidence you should be gathering for your leading or critical role evidence.


A few additional critical or leading role at distinguished organization tips:

  • Name recognition alone may be enough for establishing that an organization is distinguished. For example, an officer is going to have a hard time arguing Disney, Amazon, Costco, Pepsi, Tyson, Shell, Facebook, Tesla, or similar company are not distinguished. That said, you should still provide evidence that a company is distinguished just to be thorough.

  • Remember, USCIS officers are normal people who don’t understand the technical language of your job. Make sure you and your letter writers describe projects and roles as if they are explaining them to someone without knowledge of your field.

  • A role may be considered critical if strong evidence shows that the individual’s role critically impacted the world in a positive way (this is hard to argue). Letters from government leaders and other prominent figureheads commending someone on the work they have accomplished and the change in the world it brought about can help strengthen a critical role argument.

  • Simply progressing in a job and being at a more “senior” level may not satisfy this criteria alone. There have been cases where USCIS has found progression and increased responsibility alone do not indicate wide recognition in the field.

  • To make a critical or leading role argument, you don’t have to lead a team, be a senior member, etc. If you were charged with a task that added critical value to an organization then you may be able to make a successful argument for this criteria.

Remember, in making an EB-1 argument you have to show you meet the criteria and then USCIS will also decide if what you accomplished is extraordinary enough for the EB-1 benefit during their final merits determination. If an officer believes you satisfied 3 or more of the 10 criteria, the application must then be judged to decide whether you are extraordinary. Because of the second level of review (final merits determination) determining if you are extraordinary using Kazarian standards, there is a higher percentage of RFEs, NOIDs, and denials in this category. The reality is, USCIS has an extremely high standard for EB-1 visas. Good luck preparing your EB-1 cases!


Our firm won’t charge you just for reaching out! If you would like your qualifications evaluated (to see if you qualify or to get ideas on what you can do to improve your EB-1 or NIW resume) please contact our firm at blisonbee@lisonbeeimmigrationlaw.com with answers to the following questions:

  1. What is your area of expertise (in 2-5 words)?

  2. What nationally or internationally recognized awards in your field of endeavor have you received?

  3. What memberships in associations in your field do you possess that require outstanding achievements from members?

  4. Have you or your work been featured as published material in trade publications or other major media? If so, who published your work?

  5. Have you judged the work of others (i.e. peer review of journal articles, judge at competition, dissertation committee member, peer review for government funding program)? If so, how many times?

  6. Has your work been used by someone to make money (commercialized)? If so, explain:

  7. Have you obtained any patents or similar achievements because of your research? If so, explain:

  8. Link to Google Scholar (if not available, researchgate could work):

  9. Current Wage:

  10. Have you been employed in critical capacity? If so, where and in what capacity?

For more information see prior posts about EB-1 criteria:

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