We are thrilled to report about Vangala v. USCIS, the lawsuit brought by attorneys at Van Der Hout LLP, National Immigration Litigation Alliance (NILA), and Northwest Immigrants’ Rights Project (NWIRP), challenging the Blank Spaces policy that affected over 60,000 asylum applications and U visa petitions during the final period of the Trump administration. The parties entered into a settlement agreement, filed July 6, 2021, with the federal district court for approval. The settlement will not be final and effective until the district court approves it. In summary, the primary points of the settlement establish that:
- Anybody who has had their I-589 or I-918 applications (and applications/petitions related to the I-918) rejected pursuant to the No Blank Spaces rejection policy will be able to recapture the date of the original filing and this date will control for all purposes, including determining eligibility for derivative relationships, aging out, the one-year deadline for asylum applications, and employment authorization eligibility. For a definition of the policy, please see the settlement agreement.
- USCIS has identified over 43,000 asylum applications and over 17,000 U visa petitions rejected under this policy. USCIS will send out notices to those people within 90 days following the district court's approval of the Settlement Agreement. But others who are not identified may still submit their proof of prior rejection under this policy to demonstrate eligibility for relief under the settlement.
- After we filed suit, USCIS agreed to rescind the policy (as of December 22, 2000). There may have been additional rejections following this rescission, however. Any applicant who had their application rejected based on the rescinded policy (that is, after December 22, 2020), will still benefit under this agreement if they demonstrate it was rejected pursuant to this policy. The process for making this showing is set forth in the settlement agreement.
We will follow up with a FAQ explaining what steps must be taken to recapture the original filing date. We are especially grateful for the support we received from the entire team at ASISTA, Kyle Dandelet at Cleary Gottlieb, Joy Ziegeweid at Urban Justice Center, Shev Dalal-Dheini at AILA, and Rekha Sharma-Crawford in gathering the necessary evidence to bring this case.
Thanks to all for your support!
Zachary Nightingale and Helen Beasley at Van Der Hout LLP
Mary Kenney, Trina Realmuto, and Tiffany Lieu at NILA
Matt Adams, Aaron Korthius, and Margot Adams at NWIRP