Purpose: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing guidance through the USCIS Policy Manual regarding employment authorization and deferred action for principal petitioners seeking U nonimmigrant status and their qualifying family members with pending bona fide petitions.
Background: U nonimmigrant status is designed for noncitizens who have been victims of specific crimes, such as domestic violence and sexual assault, and have cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of these crimes. When granted U-1 nonimmigrant status, principal petitioners are authorized to work, and USCIS automatically issues them an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) upon approval of the Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918).
In situations where the number of approvable petitions exceeds the annual visa cap allocation, USCIS places such petitions on a waiting list. In cases of U-1 principal petitioners and qualifying family members on this waiting list, USCIS may grant deferred action or, in limited circumstances, parole. As a matter of discretion, employment authorization may also be authorized for these petitioners and their qualifying family members. USCIS generally provides this employment authorization under 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(14), and in certain cases, under INA 214(p)(6), although historical practice does not align with the latter.
This guidance clarifies the process and criteria for employment authorization and deferred action for U nonimmigrant principal petitioners and their qualifying family members with pending bona fide petitions.