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What You Should Know About the Bona Fide Determination Process

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on November 25, 2021

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently introduced the Bona Fide Determination (BFD) process to authorize employment to noncitizens if they have petitioned for bona fide U nonimmigrant status. There are specific things to know about this process and how it works.

What Does the Bona Fide Determination Process Entail?

The term “bona fide” means “made in good faith; without fraud or deceit.” Per this definition, the BFD process entails USCIS determining whether a petition can be considered bona fide, which depends on the subject’s completion of background checks and compliance with existing evidence requirements.

After determining whether a petition is bona fide through the BFD process, USCIS then attempts to identify any risk that the petitioner may pose to public safety or national security. 

If USCIS decides to issue a Bona Fide Determination Employment Authorization Document (BFD EAD) to petitioners, the agency can also grant the individual deferred action for the duration of the document’s validity. At this point, noncitizens can undergo final adjudication once there is ample space for them to do so.

How USCIS Determines Whether a Petition Is Bona Fide

USCIS will begin the BFD process if petitioners meet certain conditions.

The primary petitioner must first complete and properly submit Form I-918, the Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. They must also include all necessary evidence, including Form I-918, Supplement B within six months of the certifier providing their signature, along with the petitioner’s statement describing acts of victimization. 

USCIS will then complete the process by conducting background and security checks using biometric data.

The BFD Process for Qualifying Family Members

As soon as the petitioner receives a BFD EAD, qualifying family members must submit their documentation before they can receive their own BFD EADs. Specifically, qualifying family members must submit their Form I-918, Supplement A. 

USCIS will then be able to determine whether the family member’s petition is bona fide after the principal petitioner receives a BFD EAD, the petitioner completes and properly files Form I-918, Supplement A, the petition provides sufficient evidence of the petitioner’s relationship to the current BFD EAD holder, and USCIS conducts background and safety checks on the family member.

If noncitizens want to receive employment authorization in the U.S., going through the BFD process is crucial. Taking these steps can help ensure that the process goes smoothly and help individuals on the way to bona fide status.