This week, USCIS announced that the agency will now conduct a bona fide determination review for pending U visa applications before it makes a final decision in the case.  The agency will issue a deferred action notice and an employment authorization document for applicants who demonstrate eligibility for a U visa and who deserve favorable discretion.

The agency has already been issuing deferred action notices and employment authorization documents once applications are approved, but awaiting a U visa, as there is a considerable backlog of cases given the limited number of U visas available each year.  However, that process has been taking about five years and will now occur earlier in cases.  This new bona fide determination will take place sometime after the applicant goes to a biometrics appointment and USCIS conducts a background check.  The exact timeline for this determination is unknown.  This new process will apply to all new and pending cases.

Some cases may not get early deferred action and employment authorization, including those missing an I-918 supplement B signed by law enforcement officials or a declaration by the applicant explaining the victimization.   Moreover, the agency will exercise discretion in each case when deciding to issue deferred action and will not do so in cases where the applicant may be a threat to the public or to national security or is not deserving of positive discretion.

If you have a U visa case that was filed with USCIS already, your case will be subject to this new process.