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Work Permits for U Visa Applicants

Updated: Jun 14

Currently there are three types of work permits U Visa Applicants may receive:

 

Types of U Visa Work Permits

(1)    Bona Fide Determination (BFD);

(2)    Deferred Action; and,

(3)    The U Visa work permit.

 

Although there are no published processing times for BFD work permit applications, here is a general timeline for how long it may take for each of the different U Visa work permits to be issued:

 

Issuance Timeline

·         Bona Fide Determination: 1-5 years

·         Deferred Action: 5-7 years

·         U Visa Work permit: 7-12 years

 

When to file a Work Permit Application

·         Bona Fide Determination work permits may be issued with or without filing a work

permit application, but USCIS now recommends filing a work permit applications

for these work permits.

·         Deferred Action work permits require all U Visa Applicants to file a work permit

application.

·         U Visa Work permit only requires Derivative U Visa Applicants to file a work permit

application and possibly Principal U Visa Applicants who filed a U Visa Petition with

an earlier edition date and failed to request a work permit.

 

The BFD work permit may be issued by USCIS without filing a work permit application, but the most recent USCIS BFD announcement recommends filing a work permit application to request a BFD work permit.  The BFD work permit application may be filed at the time of filing the U Visa petition or after the petition has been filed.  Since this work permit is a discretionary benefit, it is possible that USCIS may never approve a BFD work permit, but may use the BFD work permit application to issue a Deferred Action work permit after Deferred Action has been granted.

 

After USCIS has granted Deferred Action for a pending U Visa petition, U Visa Applicants may apply for a Deferred Action work permit and renew it while they continue to wait for the U Visa petition to be approved.

 

Once the U Visa petition has been approved, Principal U Visa Applicants may be issued a work permit without the need to file a work permit application, however, this may be different for Principal U Visa Applicants who used U Visa Petition forms with an earlier edition date and failed to request a work permit using that form.

 

Although there are no published processing times for BFD work permit, the current processing time for U Visa petitions is about 5 years, and even then, USCIS is taking about 5-6 years to issue Deferred Action notices, so the U Visa Petition may not actually be approved for a few more years.

 

Changes in government policy particularly when there are changes in administrations, and in the law, may affect the issuance of any of the work permits U Visa Applicants may receive.


Also, keep in mind that derivative U Visa applicants such as children, parents or spouses of Principal U Visa applicants will need to submit a separate work permit application for their U Visa work permit as these are only issued to Principal U Visa Applicants without the need for filing a work permit application.

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