What if I Get a Request for Evidence (RFE) on my Immigration Application?
A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a notice that the USCIS officer uses to notify you that they need more information in order to make a decision regarding your pending application. Typically, an application or petition will fall into one of three categories:
- The application is complete in showing that the petitioner is eligible for admission and the application will be approved.
- The application is complete, but the evidence shows that the petitioner is ineligible and the application will be denied.
- The evidence that has been provided raises some questions, and cannot immediately establish eligibility for admission.
RFE’s are used when your application falls under the third category and contains insufficient documentation. Just because you have received an RFE, it does not automatically mean your visa or immigration application has been denied or will be denied in the future. It simply means that USCIS cannot approve your application as it currently stands, but just needs more information before they can make their final decision.
In many cases, a USCIS agent has the power to deny an immigration application prior to issuing a RFE. Therefore, this can be a good opportunity for you to bolster the strength of your application. An RFE can be avoided by initially preparing a complete, organized, and detailed packet to support your application at the onset of your application or case. Yet, it is important to remember that including irrelevant or unimportant information can hurt your chances of success as well.
An RFE can be sent at any time during the application process, and will explain exactly what type of evidence the USCIS needs in order to fully evaluate your application. Once you submit the requested information, the review of your application will proceed in light of the new evidence you provided.
Responding to a Request for Evidence
In order to avoid having your application denied it’s important that you include all of the requested evidence in your RFE response by the deadline assigned by USCIS. This is especially important since you only have one chance to respond to these requests. If you fail to include some of the requested information or do not respond by the deadline, your application will be denied.
Therefore, it is crucial to take any requests seriously, even if it requires you to submit information that you believe you have already provided in your application. You should file your response as quickly, politely, and thoroughly as possible. The faster you submit all of the missing information and documents the sooner your application will be processed and reviewed.
Depending on your circumstances, the RFE will grant you a 30 to 90 day window to respond. Your specific timeframe will be indicated in your RFE. Within the time allocated by the RFE from USCIS, you have three options:
- Submit all of the evidence the RFE requested at the same time.
- Submit only some of the evidence, creating a partial response, which tells the USCIS agent that you want a decision to be made using only the information it has at the time.
- Withdraw your application.
The RFE requires you to submit all of the required documents at the same time, so you should not send the materials in separate mailings to the USCIS. If you submit information after the deadline or after the first set of documents have been mailed, it will not be considered when USCIS reviews your case.
What Evidence to Include
Your individual RFE will explain exactly what type of information the USCIS is missing. Even if you think it is clear what kinds of materials your RFE is asking for, you should review your application and try to include any information that may help you bolster your application or case. For example, it could require you show a copy of you or your spouse’s birth certificate, or a showing of your professional or educational history. If you feel that you cannot provide all of the evidence, it is still better to include some evidence rather than none. But you should only partially respond if you couldn’t locate certain documents before the deadline.
Your RFE may also be more complex, and ask that you show proof as to why you should be considered eligible for the benefit of admission in the United States. In this case, it is crucial to the outcome of your case that you completely understand what the RFE is asking of you. If you are unsure about what type of materials to submit or what questions the request is raising, you should consult an immigration attorney who can better help you fulfill the requirements of your RFE.
When submitting your response, you should also submit a cover letter. The cover letter should detail what kinds of information you have submitted to USCIS so as to alert the officer to the fact that you have provided all of the information that they requested. Further, if you included information that was not specifically asked for, this is where you would tell them what other information you’re including and why you’re including it.