In a previous article (U Visa Policy Updates: Applicants & Their Qualifying Family Members May Be Eligible to Work and Travel), we explained that on June 14, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would, at its discretion, grant certain U-visa petitioners 1) a four-year Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and 2) a four year Deferred Action status, while their petitions are pending. This new policy will apply to all pending U visa petitions and all U visa petitions filed on or after June 14, 2021.
In the article we will discuss the process by which the decision to issue EADs and grant deferred action are made: the Bona Fide Determination (BFD) Process.
What Is the BFD Process?
In simple terms, an application is bona fide if, upon initial review, it appears that the application was properly filed and a criminal background check has not raised any red flags. More specifically, the BFD process consists of two steps:
1) USCIS first determines whether a pending petition is bona fide (made in good faith). There are two elements relevant to this decision:
A. The principal petitioner must have properly filed a complete Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918), including all required initial evidence. Required initial evidence includes both a complete and properly filed U Nonimmigrant Status Certification (Form I-918, Supplement B) submitted within six months of the certifier’s signature, and a personal statement from the petitioner describing the facts of the victimization.
B. USCIS must have received the result of the principal petitioner’s background and security checks based upon biometrics.
2) If USCIS has determined a petition to be bona fide, it then determines whether the petitioner poses a risk to national security or public safety, and otherwise merits a favorable exercise of discretion. This determination is made based on the results of the background checks mentioned in section B. above.
If you have questions about the bona fide determination process, U-visas, or have any other immigration-related concerns, please contact our attorneys at the Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad. Our experienced immigration attorneys stand ready to assist you.