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Policy update Bona Fide Determination Process for U Visa

  • On June 14, 2021 USCIS announced that it will now conduct an initial review of Form I-918 and will issue a Bone Fide Determination work permit and deferred action for 4 years to petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and qualifying family members if USCIS deems their petition “bona fide”, instead of completing a full waiting list adjudication which is currently taking about 5 years.

  • If USCIS determines the principal petition is bona fide, USCIS will then determine whether the principal petitioner poses a risk to national security or public safety, and whether the principal petitioner warrants a favorable exercise of discretion to receive employment authorization and deferred action.

  • Those who do not receive a bona fide determination under this initial review will still continue to proceed to the full waiting list adjudication and, if their petitions are approvable, will be placed on the waiting list for a U visa. If principal petitioners are placed on the waiting list then their qualifying family members, receive deferred action too. If the qualifying members have also properly filed for employment authorization, they also will receive an employment authorization valid for 4 years.

  • Throughout the initial 4-year validity period for the bona fide determination, employment authorization, and grant of deferred action until final adjudication for U nonimmigrant status, USCIS will update and review background checks at regular intervals to determine whether a principal petitioner or a qualifying family member may maintain his or her status.

  • USCIS will review all petitions, both petitioners placed on the waiting list and petitioners for nationwide application. When confirming a relationship between the principal petitioner and the qualifying family member which is based on marriage, USCIS will evaluate whether the relationship existed at the time the principal petition was favorably adjudicated, rather than when the principal petition was filed.

  • USCIS is adopting the decision issued by the Ninth Circuit in Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski for nationwide application. When confirming a relationship between the principal petitioner and the qualifying family member which is based on marriage, USCIS will evaluate whether the relationship existed at the time the principal petition was favorably adjudicated, rather than when the principal petition was filed.

Source : AILA

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