New Practice Advisory: Insight into USCIS’s Application of the “No-Blanks” Policy to U-Visa Petitions

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), ASISTA and the Domestic Violence Project (DVP) of the Urban Justice Center have published a new practice advisory based on new USCIS documentation obtained by FOIA litigation brought by Cleary Gottlieb on behalf of DVP.  

This advisory contains a summary of the records USCIS released through the FOIA litigation , as well as a detailed explanation of what USCIS considers to be required fields. In addition, the advisory works through how practitioners can use this information when advocating with USCIS and other strategic considerations for addressing rejections based on USCIS’s “no-blanks” policy. Highlights include:

  • USCIS has issued two primary guidance documents to aid the mailroom in assessing U visa forms: A Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) guide and a color-coded form. However, the SOP and the color-coded form are sometimes inconsistent with each other. 
  • Due to the blank spaces policy, USCIS rejected 98% of all I-918s submitted between December 30, 2019 and January 17, 2020. 
  • As of October 9, 2020, USCIS has not issued an SOP or color-coded form to reflect the application of the no-blanks policy to I-918 Supplement Bs.

We are grateful to the tremendous contributions of Kyle Dandelet (Cleary Gottleib, Chair of the AILA VAWA, U and T Committee), Joy Ziegeweid (DVP), Amy Cheung (ASISTA) and Sharvari Dalal-Dheini (AILA) to this advisory.