USCIS spokesman Michael Bars said the policy was changed to cut down on frivolous applications. The agency has said applicants sometimes file substantially incomplete placeholder applications, knowing the back-and-forth with the USCIS will buy them time. “Under the law, the burden of proof is on the applicant,” Bars said, “not the other way around.”
But immigration lawyers worry that there is not enough oversight or clear standards to ensure fair handling. USCIS officers will now have near-complete discretion to make complex judgments behind closed doors.