Immigration Law

A Comprehensive Guide to Request for Evidence (RFE)

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We understand that navigating the U.S. immigration process can be overwhelming, but we want to assure you that we are here to help. At times, USCIS may require additional information to make a well-informed decision on your case. This is where a Request for Evidence (RFE) comes into play, and we want to provide you with the necessary knowledge to avoid and respond to one. Our article will guide you through the process of understanding what an RFE is and how to prevent it, all while keeping your immigration journey positive and optimistic. 

What Is a Request for Evidence (RFE)?‍ 

What Is a Request for Evidence (RFE)?‍ 

When you file an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you must provide evidence to support your eligibility. However, if the USCIS determines that the evidence you have provided is not sufficient to support your application, it may send you a Request for Evidence (RFE). The RFE is a notice that informs you that the USCIS requires additional information or documentation to process your application.  

For instance, if you are applying for a green card, you must provide enough evidence to prove that you are eligible. If the evidence you have submitted is incomplete or inadequate, the USCIS will most likely issue an RFE. 

When the USCIS issues an RFE, it will send you a Form I-797E (notice of action) to the mailing address you provided on your application. Therefore, it is vital to make sure that your mailing address is current and accurate to avoid missing any important updates. In case you have changed your mailing address since submitting your application, you must update your new address with the USCIS immediately. 

An RFE typically consists of four significant elements. First, it cites the relevant law that applies to your application. Second, it lists all the evidence that you submitted with your application. Third, it lists the specific evidence that you need to provide to complete your application. Finally, the RFE includes a deadline by which you must respond with the additional information or documentation requested. 

It is essential to provide the requested information or documentation within the specified time frame to avoid delays or even denial of your application. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully review the RFE and provide all the necessary evidence to support your application. 

What Law Governs Request for Evidence in the US?

When you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from U.S. immigration authorities, the first thing you’ll notice is a reference to a specific section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that relates to the requirements for your particular immigration application.  

Although this section may seem intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with the legal jargon, it’s generally not the most important part of the RFE. What really matters is that you respond promptly and thoroughly to the request for any additional evidence that the immigration authorities need to process your application. Failing to provide the requested evidence can delay your application or even result in a denial.  

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand exactly what type of evidence is being requested and to gather and submit it as soon as possible. While you can choose to challenge the RFE with the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer, in most cases, it’s best to focus on providing all the required evidence to satisfy the immigration authorities and move your application forward. 

What is the Evidence you Submit before Getting a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

What is the Evidence you Submit before Getting a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

It is designed to provide you with a detailed overview of the evidence that you have already submitted in support of your application. It is imperative that you carefully review the list of evidence that USCIS has received from you to confirm that it includes everything you sent with your original application.  

In case USCIS did not include something, you submitted on this list, you should consider resubmitting it as part of your Request for Evidence (RFE) response packet. This will help ensure that your application is complete and that your case is reviewed as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

It is worth noting that the completeness and accuracy of the evidence you submit can have a significant impact on the success of your application. Therefore, you should take the time to carefully review all of the documentation you have submitted to ensure that it is complete, accurate, and meets all of the requirements outlined by USCIS. 

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your application is processed as quickly and efficiently as possible and that you have the best possible chance of success. 

Does a Request for Evidence (RFE) Occur due to a Lack of Evidence? 

When you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) notice from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it will typically list the documents that you have already submitted and then go on to list the missing evidence that is required for the agency to make a decision on your case. This lack of evidence is preventing the agency from making a decision on your case in accordance with the requirements of the immigration law that was quoted earlier in the notice. 

It is important to note that this section of the RFE is usually quite lengthy, as USCIS will typically include detailed information about eligibility requirements that have not been met and alternate documents that can be submitted if you don’t have the requested originals. It is crucial that you review this section very carefully and take note of all the information you will need to include in your RFE response to support your case. 

In summary, it is essential to provide all the requested evidence in your RFE response, as this is necessary for USCIS to make a decision on your case. Therefore, it is important to carefully review the RFE notice and provide all the requested documentation and evidence to the best of your ability. 

What is the Response Deadline for a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

What is the Response Deadline for a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

After submitting an application for a US visa or green card, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, asking for additional information or documentation. Upon receiving the RFE, USCIS will provide you with a deadline for submitting your RFE response, as well as the mailing address to send it to. It is important to note that your response must arrive at the USCIS office by the deadline provided, and it is not acceptable to simply have your response postmarked by the deadline. 

The response deadline will give you a specific timeframe for putting together your RFE response and mailing it. It is crucial to adhere to this deadline, as USCIS will inform you of the consequences of not submitting your RFE response by the deadline. The most significant consequence is that USCIS will review your application without the missing information and will likely deny your application. 

Does Receiving a Request for Evidence Mean My Application Was Rejected? 

When you apply for a US immigration benefit, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This does not necessarily mean that your application has been rejected or will be rejected. It simply means that USCIS needs more information from you to make a decision on your application.  

It is important to note that you are required to respond to the RFE within the specified time frame mentioned in the notice. Failure to do so may result in USCIS concluding that you have abandoned your application and denied it or deciding your case without the additional information requested. Therefore, it is crucial to keep USCIS informed of your current address so that you can receive the notice and submit your response within the specified time frame. 

How can I avoid a Request for Evidence?

How can I avoid a Request for Evidence?

Submitting an organized and complete application can help you avoid RFEs and save time. Follow USCIS’ instructions and include all requested documents to increase your chances of avoiding a request for evidence. Here are some tips to avoid a request for evidence: 

Provide the required initial evidence  

When filing an immigration form with USCIS, make sure to follow the provided instructions and include all required evidence. Failure to do so may result in receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE). USCIS requires various types of documents as evidence, and submitting difficult-to-read documents may also result in an RFE. 

Include translated documents  

If you have documents that are not in English, you must provide a certified English translation to USCIS. This is important because if you don’t, USCIS may send you a Request for Evidence (RFE). Any document you provide to USCIS must be translated into English by someone else, not you or your sponsor.  

This will help the reviewing officer process your application. It is recommended that you get your foreign language documents translated officially, ideally by a legal office that specializes in translations. This will ensure that your documents retain their legal meaning. 

Evidence of Visa Sponsor’s Income  

If you are applying for a family-based immigrant visa and have a petitioner sponsoring on your behalf, it is important to know that USCIS requires applicants to provide evidence of their sponsor’s household income. Specifically, the sponsor must have the federal poverty level requires an income of no less than 125%. 

If your sponsor’s income does not meet this requirement, or if you do not provide enough information to prove their financial standing, USCIS may send you a Request for Evidence (RFE) asking you to provide additional documentation. In some cases, you may need to find an additional sponsor who meets the income requirement. It is important to pay close attention to these requirements to ensure your application is processed smoothly and efficiently. 

Proof of legal entry  

If you’re applying for an immigration application from within the U.S., you’ll need to show proof that you entered the country legally. You can do this by providing a page from your passport with the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) stamp or with your I-94 travel record. If you don’t provide enough evidence of your legal entry, you may receive a request for evidence (RFE) asking for more information about your arrival to the U.S. 

Do I Need a Lawyer to Respond to a Request for Evidence?

Do I Need a Lawyer to Respond to a Request for Evidence?

When you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it may question your eligibility for the immigration benefit you are applying for based on some aspect of U.S. immigration law. In such a scenario, it becomes crucial to prove in your RFE response that you are eligible for the application you are submitting.  

If you find yourself stuck in such a situation, it is recommended that you seek guidance from an experienced immigration attorney who can assist you in determining how to respond to the RFE and which documents to submit as evidence. Remember, a well-prepared response can make all the difference in your immigration journey. 

How Many Times Can I Respond to Request for Evidence? 

When you receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, it’s important to remember that you only have one opportunity to respond. It’s crucial that you include all the necessary evidence that you want USCIS to consider in your RFE response. Please keep in mind that you cannot send evidence to USCIS in separate mailings; all evidence must be submitted in one packet. 

Responding to an RFE can be a complex process, and it’s normal to have questions. It’s a good idea to seek guidance from an experienced immigration lawyer, to ensure that you’re submitting a thorough response that meets all the requirements. 

Final Words  

Now that you have a better understanding of the ways you can handle a request for evidence. It is highly recommended to consider hiring an experienced immigration attorney. With the help of an attorney, you will have a better chance of clearing any unnecessary hurdles in your immigration process to the US. 

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Nilanjana Basu
Nilanjana is a lawyer with a flair for writing. She has a certification in American Laws from Penn Law (Pennsylvania University). Along with this, she has been known to write legal articles that allow the audience to know about American laws and regulations at ease.

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