USCIS Reverses “Blank Space” Rule for Asylum Applicants

In 2019, United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a rule affecting certain forms, including those used by asylum applicants and victims of certain criminal acts. Now, that rule has been reversed, such that a blank space is no longer automatically disqualifying. This will make it easier for asylum applicants with missing or incomplete documentation to get asylum status.

The 2019 Blank Space Rule

The 2019 rule that was implemented by USCIS affected forms used for three types of immigration applications:

  • Applications for asylum
  • J-1 visitor exchange visas
  • J-2 visas for spouses and dependents of J-1 visa holders
  • U nonimmigrant visas for victims of criminal activity

The rule made it so that any space left blank on the forms used for these types of applications would result in an automatic disqualification. This meant that anyone who was unable to complete the forms, or who missed a space while completing it, would automatically have their applications rejected. For asylum seekers, this was a potentially devastating setback, as it meant they could be deported back to their country of origin, where they may face oppression, persecution, or death.

The New Rule

The new rule reverts the rule on blank spaces back to how it was prior to the 2019 change. This means that having a blank space on a form is not inherently disqualifying for asylum seekers or other affected visa applicants. However, anyone applying for legal immigration status still must furnish as much information as possible, and they must be available for contact regarding any issues that may arise in the application process. In addition, any spaces left blank on an immigration form may cause delays in processing an application, or may lead to a denial of legal status.

The Effect of the New Rule

            For asylum seekers, as well as those applying for J-1, J-2, or U visas, the rule change will give them a better opportunity to get legal immigration status in the United States. In the case of asylees and U visa holders, this can help protect them from violence and oppression, keeping them from being deported and forced back into dangerous circumstances. That said, the immigration process is still complex, and you should not attempt to navigate it on your own.

The Drucker Law Firm has represented clients in immigration cases for more than 40 years. Our experienced team of lawyers will work with you to address all of your concerns and needs. If you are seeking legal immigration status or have an issue related to immigration, please give us a call at (718) 458-1489 or visit our contact page to schedule a consultation.

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