The Biden administration this week announced that they will speed up temporary work permit applications for undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime, under the U-Visa program.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in a June 14 memo that they will begin expediting processing of cases due to “drastic increases in the volume of U nonimmigrant petitions and a growing backlog awaiting placement on the waiting list or final adjudication.” The update to the USCIS Policy Manual introduces a new employment authorization process for U-visa petitioners with “pending bona fide petitions who meet certain discretionary standards.”
What is a bona fide petition?
USCIS will deem a petition bona fide if:
- The principal petitioner properly filed Form I-918, including Form I-918B U Nonimmigrant Status Certification;
- The principal petitioner properly filed a personal statement from the petitioner describing the facts of the victimization; and
- The result of the principal petitioner’s biometrics has been received.
A new policy to help a huge backlog of cases
The 270,000 application backlog of U-Visa applications grew significantly during Donald Trump’s time in office, leading to an average waiting time of around five years to be placed on the waiting list for work authorization. Through this new update, victims can receive this work authorization sooner, giving them financial stability and protection from deportation while they wait for a full visa.
President Biden is seeking to dampen down the tough stance taken by Donald Trump’s government, with thousands of U-Visa applicants and other vulnerable immigrants having their applications outright rejected due to single fields left blank on forms and other minor discrepancies. Many immigrants were deported by I.C.E. as they waited for their applications to be approved.
“This new process will allow eligible petitioners access to more timely employment authorization, which will provide these victims of crime more stability as they rebuild their lives, and will better equip them to cooperate with and assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting crime,” said USCIS in a statement.
The visa was created in October 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act and allows the government to grant temporary legal status to up to 10,000 people every year who have been victims of crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence.
If you are a victim of certain crimes, you could be eligible for a U-Visa. With this new policy set out by USCIS, you could gain work authorization quicker than ever before. Get in touch today to find out if you’re eligible and to begin your application.
© Margaret W. Wong & Associates 2021. The above text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.