Don’t Leave Fields Blank on Your Immigration Forms!

January 17th, 2020

USCIS has issued a new policy alert regarding best practice for completing the I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. The alert states that USCIS will begin rejecting forms that contain blank fields, unless the field specifically states that the question is optional. This is a new example of how particular the agency is becoming and how easily petitions can be denied or returned if the instructions are not followed carefully.

The USCIS website states the following about the new policy:

“We may reject your Form I-918 or your Form I-918 Supplement A if you leave a field blank, unless the field is optional. Optional fields include the safe mailing address as well as fields you should only complete if you answered yes to a previous question. You must provide a response to all other questions, even if the response is “none,” “unknown” or “n/a.”  We will reject a Form I-918 or a Form I-918 Supplement A that has, for example, an empty field for middle name, for current immigration status, or for information pertaining to a spouse or child.”

In other words, if a potential immigrant leaves one non-optional box blank, such as by skipping a middle name instead of writing “NONE”, USCIS will not accept the form. 

This policy has also affected other USCIS forms, such as the I-589, Application for Asylum or Withholding of Removal. Around October 2019, USCIS added a similar policy alert to the I-589 page, explaining that any blank fields will result in a denied or returned application.

In recent months, immigration attorneys have begun reporting that petitions were being returned due to “incompleteness,” but the only incomplete areas on the form were items that did not apply to the client. In the past, USCIS would not count this as “incomplete” and would understand blank fields to mean that the item does not apply.

Going forward, it will be extremely important to always note “N/A,” “UNKNOWN,” or “NONE” in all such fields on immigration forms. Potential immigrants are encouraged to be careful and make sure every form is completely correct and filled, as USCIS is extremely particular and will reject forms over a small error. Assistance from an experienced immigration attorney can ensure that the entire process is done correctly.