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USCIS, June 14, 2021
"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is publishing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual on employment authorization and deferred action for principal petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and qualifying family members with pending, bona fide petitions. ... Policy Highlights • Provides that USCIS conducts an initial review of Form I-918 and will issue BFD EADs 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. • Clarifies that, if USCIS determines the principal petition is bona fide, USCIS will then determine whether the principal petitioner poses a risk to national security9 or public safety, and finally, whether the principal petitioner warrants a favorable exercise of discretion to receive employment authorization under INA 214(p)(6) and deferred action. • Explains that those who do not receive a BFD EAD under this initial review will proceed to the full waiting list adjudication and, if their petitions are approvable, will be placed on the waiting list for a U visa. Principal petitioners placed on the waiting list, and their qualifying family members, receive deferred action; if they have properly filed for employment authorization, they also receive an EAD valid for 4 years. • Provides that USCIS will generally not conduct waiting list adjudications for noncitizens who have been granted BFD EADs and deferred action. Instead, their next adjudicative step will be final adjudication for U nonimmigrant status when space is available under the statutory cap. • Explains that throughout the initial 4-year validity period for the BFD EAD 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 BFD EAD and deferred action. USCIS also retains discretion to update background and security checks at any time when case-specific circumstances warrant. • Clarifies that USCIS will review all petitions, both petitioners placed on the waiting list and petitioners issued BFD EADs, in receipt date order for final adjudication of U nonimmigrant status. • Clarifies that USCIS is adopting the decision issued by the Ninth Circuit in Medina Tovar v. Zuchowski for nationwide application.10 Therefore, 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."