USCIS changes policy for U-visa applicants – Bona Fide Determination and Employment Authorization

by | Jun 14, 2021 | Immigration Law |

In June 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) implemented a new policy that may greatly benefit immigrants who have survived crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse. Under the new policy manual guidelines, immigrants petitioning for U nonimmigrant status – also known as a U visa – may receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) earlier. This EAD, which allows noncitizens the right to work in the U.S.. It can take up to five years or more for petitioners to receive employment authorization under prior process .

Long backlogs

Long backlog of petitions led the USCIS to reconsider its policy regarding the issuance of EADs to primary petitioners and qualifying family members with pending U visa petitions. The bona fide determination (BFD) process is used to grant deferred action and issue employment authorization to U-visa petitioners who are found to have bona fide applications.

A Bona-Fide Determination (BFD)

The USCIS must determine that the petition is bona fide, based on whether,

  • the U via application is complete, including a personal statement from the petitioner regarding the fact of the case, and
  • biometrics (background checks) has been completed to ensure the petitioner and qualifying family members don’t pose a risk to national security or public safety.

A BFD is discretionary by USCIS. If a BFD is approved, the petitioner and qualifying family members will be granted deferred action  and will be eligible for EAD valid for four years. A BDF is not a guarantee that USCIS will grant the U visa petition.

What this means for immigrant crime victims

This is excellent news for those who are survivors of certain crimes who have aided police in solving such crime.  This will allow survivors to find employment and contribute to the economy sooner.