What is a Request for Evidence, and What Should You Do if You Receive One?
A Request for Evidence, or RFE, is sent by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when your application or petition for immigration benefits does not contain all of the documents that are required for it to be processed. Here’s more about what an RFE is, and what you should do if you receive one.
What is a Request for Evidence?
When a USCIS officer who is evaluating your application or petition for immigration benefits needs additional evidence in order to make a decision about your eligibility, you will receive an RFE. It’s important for you to know that an RFE doesn’t mean that your application is going to be denied. Essentially, an RFE gives you another opportunity to submit the most thorough and accurate documentation and evidence to USCIS in order to prove your case.
When During the Processing of Your Application Will USCIS Send an RFE?
USCIS may send an RFE during any part of its review of your case, and the agency will specify the documentation and evidence needed from you.
What if You Receive an RFE?
If you receive an RFE it’s important for you to read it in its entirety in order to gain a full and clear understanding of the documentation and evidence being requested of you by USCIS. In your response to USCIS, you should:
- Include the original RFE
- Send all of the requested documents together in the same package
- Provide an explanation if you’re unable to furnish a requested document, and submit an equivalent document that suffices—if it’s feasible
- Clarify any portions of your submission that may have been confusing or contradictory
It’s in your best interest to take your RFE to an immigration attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that your response is clear, cohesive, and complete in order to give you the best chance of approval for the immigration benefits you seek.
How Long Do You Have to Respond to an RFE?
USCIS may indicate your deadline to respond to an RFE by providing you with a date or noting that you have a specific number of days. If you’re given a certain number of days to reply, you should consider the date on which the RFE was issued—and not the date that you received it in the mail.
In order for you to verify that USCIS receives your submission by the deadline indicated in the RFE, you may want to consider mailing options that enable you to track and confirm its delivery. USCIS will pause the processing of your application while it awaits your response.
How Can You Avoid Getting a RFE?
Although receiving an RFE doesn’t mean your application will unavoidably be rejected, it will definitely slow down the review process. You can reduce your chances of receiving an RFE by carefully following the submission requirements for the immigration benefits you seek. The paperwork you’ll need to submit will vary based on the nature of your application, but the kinds of documents that you’ll need to submit may include:
- Initial evidence: all forms, documents, and other necessary evidence.
- A copy of a stamped passport, or Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to show that you gained legal entry into the U.S.
- Document translations for any paperwork that’s written in a language other than English. The translation cannot be written by you or your spouse. The translator has to certify in writing that they’ve made an accurate translation of the document(s), and this must include the date of the translation, and the name, address, and signature of the translator.
- Proof of your income (when sponsoring someone for a green card).
If your case involves special or unusual circumstances that may raise questions for USCIS, you should include a written explanation with your submission. It’s wise to work with an immigration attorney before filing your paperwork. A skilled Austin immigration attorney can help ensure that your application or petition is as accurate, clear, and comprehensive as possible.
What is a Notice of Intent to Deny?
Upon evaluating your application for immigration benefits, USCIS may intend to deny your case. If so, you will receive a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). A NOID means that you submitted the necessary documentation and evidence, but the information you provided does not show that you’re eligible for the benefits you seek.
A NOID details exactly why USCIS feels that you haven’t proven your case for benefits. USCIS will likely deny your application or petition unless you are able to make use of a final opportunity to supply additional evidence that demonstrates you are eligible and qualified to receive the benefits for which you applied.
A NOID typically occurs in cases when:
- There is insufficient evidence of a bona fide marriage (when trying to obtain a marriage-based green card)
- There are inconsistencies with information provided by you and your spouse during an interview with USCIS
- A USCIS official detects fraud related to your submission
- There is negative information uncovered in your case
If you receive a NOID, you should be concerned since your response to it may be your last opportunity to prove your case for immigration benefits. If this is your situation, you should reach out to an immigration attorney right away so that they can take the lead during this critical point in your application process.
The Changes in USCIS Policy on Sending RFEs and NOIDs
USCIS used to practice a policy that permitted the agency to deny a case that lacked the proper documentation and evidence without first sending an RFE or a NOID—even if providing additional documentation could result in an approval. This turned out to be burdensome for applicants because they had to either reopen their cases, or file another application for benefits in order to supply the additional evidence needed to help prove their eligibility. This was also inefficient for USCIS.
In June 2021 that policy was ended, making way for USCIS’s current practice of sending an RFE before it may deny a case—if more documentation could lead to an approval.
Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About Receiving an RFE?
If you’ve received a Request for Evidence from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, call our office to schedule a free consultation so that we can help get your application for immigration benefits moving in the right direction.