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Blank-street's Back, Alright! USCIS Policy Overturned in Court

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

The end of 2020 was cause for widespread celebration, especially for foreign nationals who were being adversely affected by the crazy "no blank space on applications" rule that USCIS had created and begun enforcing. More specifically, based on a recent announcement by USCIS, the agency has agreed not to reject applications containing blank spaces that were filed on or after December 28, 2020. This commitment by USCIS is limited to asylum applications and U-status (or U-visa) applications. (U visas are issued to foreign nationals who were victims of crimes).

This reassuring development resulted from class action litigation in Vangala v. USCIS, wherein the plaintiff sought to have the policy set aside.

The Policy

The "No Blank Space" policy was expressly created to make it more difficult for foreigners to submit applications for humanitarian statuses/visas to USCIS successfully. In summary, the policy mandates that applicants enter written responses to every question, even if the answer is "none", "unknown" or "N/A". Under this system, USCIS staff members can properly reject "incomplete" applications on the basis that they contain "blank" fields; regardless of whether the question is relevant to the applicant or not.

The Impact

In the aftermath of the policy's implementation, immigration lawyers observed thousands of baseless rejections of humanitarian visa applications. These rejections caused immense strife for those seeking protection under the law, and a better life in the U.S.

Vulnerable Applicants Include:

- Asylum seekers

- Survivors of domestic violence

- Victims of crime

- Widows of U.S. citizens

- Special immigrant juveniles

- VAWA petitioners (those seeking protection from an abusive U.S. citizen spouse, parent, or child)

A Ray of Hope

Disturbed by these injustices, the plaintiffs in Vangala sought relief by filing a class action lawsuit in federal court that argued for USCIS set aside the rejection policy. Furthermore, they sought to "compel Defendants to deem applications filed as of the date that USCIS initially received them", and "not as of the date that the agency later accepted the refiling of the previously rejected application."

Additionally, they petitioned for USCIS to issue receipt notices for applications that were unlawfully rejected.

Thankfully, the parties decided to settle. USCIS agreed to pause the rejection policy's implementation, and the parties are set to negotiate the claims (which include recourse for proposed class members who have already had applications rejected).

We assist countless foreign nationals and we will be happy to personally assist you with your application as well. Send us an E-mail or call us at (888)354-6257. For reasons on why you should consult an immigration attorney whenever you have an immigration issue, see our page titled: Reasons Why it is Vital to Use an Immigration Lawyer.


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