USCIS Expands Access to Work Permits for Immigrants Who Are Crime Victims


The Biden Administration announced Monday, June 14 a new U.S. immigration policythat will expand access to work permits and deportation relief to eligible U-Visa applicants, those who are victims of certain crimes and aid law enforcement investigations or persecutions.


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will create a process that could allow tens of thousands of eligible U-Visa applicants to receive work permits if their “claims are deemed to be made in good faith and without the intention of defrauding the immigration system,” the agency said.


Under the new policy, U-Visa applicants who submitted a complete application and are not a risk to national security or public safety, and deserve a positive exercise of discretion, should receive a “Bona Fide Determination” (BFD) work permit, valid for a renewable 4-year period.


U-Visas provide a path to citizenship for victims of certain crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Congress only allows the government to issue 10,000 visas a year, leaving applicants on a waiting lists for future years and vulnerable to deportation.  Under the new policy, the government will make faster decisions about whether to grant four-year work permits to immigrants waiting for U visa determinations.


If you are a U-Visa applicant who already submitted a work permit application with your U-Visa filing, USCIS will review your case and issue you a BFD work permit if you qualify—you do not need to take any action now.


If you are a U-Visa applicant who did not submit and work permit application with your U-Visa filing, you must wait to receive a notice from USCIS that you are eligible to apply for a BFD work permit—once you receive this notice, you should prepare and submit the work permit application.


Immigrant Legal Center encourages individuals seeking immigration legal assistance to consult with an immigration attorney. If this news impacts you, consider calling the Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline (NILAH). NILAH offers free, confidential screenings, call 1-855-307-6730.


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