Receiving a request for evidence (RFE), from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is one of the things you wish never happens to you in the immigration world. Rightly so, because it not only delays your immigration process even further but sometimes does not give you enough time to figure out how to get that evidence.
What Is A Request For Evidence
More often than not, when you file any petition or application with the USCIS, you will receive a colored paper after a few months called a request for evidence. This is USCIS’s way of telling you that they need more documents/explanation from you before they determine whether you are eligible for the benefit you are applying for.
How To Respond To A Request For Evidence
Here are some suggested “best practices” when responding to an RFE by AILA:
- For simple RFE responses, refer in your transmittal letter to the specific request(s) in the RFE and provide a checklist of documents or information you are providing. Index and tab any attachments to the response, such as an affidavit, employer letter, and documents
- For complex and/or multi-page RFEs, read the RFE several times slowly and break it down, topic by topic, paragraph-by-paragraph, and sentence-by-sentence to understand what issues are raised and how to write the response
- Organize the complex RFE response by using the structure of, and repeating the words used in the RFE itself. If you stray from the structure or words provided in the RFE, the response may be considered incomplete or could confuse the adjudicator. Try to break the response up into section headings by following the topics
- Gather any requested evidence
- Be prepared to research the law and use appropriate authority. A response to a request for general information that refers to the statute and regulations in a meaningful way can be very persuasive. On the other hand, citing law without explaining its relevance can undermine the presentation by alienating the adjudicator
- If the RFE requests documents or information already provided, say so in a respectful way. Avoid unnecessary displays of annoyance or sarcasm. Consider resubmitting the evidence with the RFE response as a convenience to the adjudicator
- Take note of 8 CFR §103.2(b)(16)(i)–(iv) regarding mandatory disclosure of derogatory information. Ask for additional information from USCIS and inform them of your willingness to respond to any additional concerns
- Proofread, edit, and revise the response, making certain you have covered all questions, requests and objections
- File the response timely. Use an express mail service and send it at least two days before the deadline
- Check the delivery service’s online tracking
- Check the USCIS’s online case status to determine if the RFE response was received and case processing has resumed
- Receive case updates electronically from USCIS
It is always recommended to hire an experienced attorney while sending in your response. Attaching the right documents and responding to their request correctly could be very tricky at times. There is always a high risk of getting a rejection and losing your immigrant/ non-immigrant status.
How To Avoid Requests For Evidence
The easiest way to avoid RFE is to get someone to file your petition or application right the first time! That someone should be an immigration attorney who’s done his research and knows what documents need to be attached.
If you do insist on filling it yourself, do your homework before filing anything. Visit the USCIS website or call an immigration attorney whenever you are unsure of what needs to be done.
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