What You Need to Know About a Request for Evidence (RFE)

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What Is an RFE?

Several immigration applications are sent to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) yearly. While some applications are swiftly approved or denied, others fall into a distinctive category, requiring additional information before the USCIS decides. If your immigration case falls into this category, the USCIS will send Form I-797E to your mailing address.

Form I-797E is a Notice of Action used by the USCIS to request for evidence (RFE) from certain applicants. Understanding how to respond to an RFE and comprehending its implications on your application is essential. It may be beneficial to consult a competent immigration attorney in such situations. Besides helping you explain why you received the RFE, they can also ensure you are well-equipped to respond adequately to USCIS.

RFEs are a pivotal component of the USCIS’s response mechanism. They are triggered for various reasons, with the USCIS seeking more information or clarification to adjudicate an application.

When Will the USCIS Issue an RFE?

Numerous factors can lead to the issuance of an RFE, including:

  • Lack of Initial Evidence: There are several documents you need to submit with your immigration application. Failure to include the mandatory documentation may result in the USCIS dispatching an RFE to address the gap.

  • Missing Document Translations: The USCIS requires all submitted documents to be in English. If your documents are in a foreign language, you are responsible for providing certified translations by a third party.

  • Insufficient Financial Support: Many family-based immigration applications require individuals to show sufficient evidence of financial support from a sponsor. Sponsors must prove they have income levels at or above 125% of the Federal poverty line. Failing to furnish this support renders applicants inadmissible under the public charge grounds of inadmissibility, potentially leading to the issuance of an RFE.

  • Proof of Lawful Entry: If you are within the US, you must show that you entered the country legally. This involves presenting a stamped passport or copy of your I-94 travel record documenting your most recent entry.

  • Unusual cases: When a USCIS officer encounters ambiguities or inconsistencies within an application, an RFE might be issued. For instance, initiating a green card application via Form I-130 online and subsequently withdrawing it.

Can You Prevent the USCIS From Sending You an RFE?

Receiving an RFE does not necessarily mean your immigration application will be denied. However, it may make the review process longer. You can lower your chances of receiving an RFE by carefully adhering to the filing requirements of the immigration benefit you seek. This includes providing the required initial evidence, document translations, and offering clear explanations in unique circumstances.

Responding to a Request for Evidence

Upon receiving an RFE, you should carefully read and understand the concerns raised. If you find yourself uncertain about the specific documents requested by the USCIS, consider enlisting the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. Neglecting to submit the requested evidence can result in extended processing times or, in the worst-case scenario, denial of your application.

In the RFE, the USCIS provides a deadline for your response and specifies the mailing address for submitting the requested documents. Adhering to the response deadline is vital. Failure to submit a timely response could lead to the USCIS evaluating your application without the essential information, which may result in the denial of your application.

Failure to submit a response to the RFE could lead to the USCIS assuming that you abandoned your application and remaining in the US unlawfully, which will result in your arrest and placement in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. You will be made to appear before an immigration judge, where an order of removal (deportation) may be issued against you.

How Long Does It Take the USCIS to Review Your RFE Response?

The USCIS response review timeline is contingent upon various factors, as it is determined on a case-by-case basis. It may take longer for the USCIS to review an RFE response when suspicions of fraud exist than when documentation like a birth certificate or proof of income is missing. The caseload at the USCIS at the time of submission can also influence response times.

Nevertheless, if you responded to the RFE in good time (before the deadline), you can expect a further response from the USCIS within sixty days. There are instances where applicants may request the USCIS to expedite the adjudication process. Nevertheless, the USCIS may solicit additional documents to substantiate the expedited processing request.

Is a NOID the Same as an RFE?

It is critical to differentiate between a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) and an RFE. The USCIS sends a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if it determines that you are ineligible for the immigrant visa you seek. Even though you may have provided all the evidence initially required by the USCIS, they may find you ineligible after reviewing your application. This is different from the RFE, which is a request for missing evidence to aid the adjudication process.

The NOID will state why the USCIS intends to deny your application. It will also provide an opportunity for you to defend your application against denial. For example, where the evidence provided with your marriage green card application does not prove a genuine marriage. At this point, you can submit additional evidence that proves your marriage relationship.

Receiving a NOID does not mean that the USCIS has rejected your application. It is a chance to convince them and submit evidence that you are eligible for the immigration benefits you applied for.

Unlike an RFE, which requests missing documents or evidence, a NOID pertains to an applicant’s eligibility and the validity of the evidence already provided.

Contact a Qualified Immigration Lawyer for Assistance

The language and format used in RFEs may be tricky and challenging to understand. Remember that this may be your last chance to influence the USCIS’s decision in your favor, and you should make it count. For this reason, it is essential to hire a knowledgeable immigration attorney in Texas to assist you with the process.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, our team boasts an in-depth comprehension of immigration law and the intricacies of USCIS policies and eligibility requirements. We are equipped to assist in reviewing your RFE and including all the documents that enhance your chances of securing a favorable response to your application. Our lawyers can also ensure that the documents we submit are accurate, transparent, and easily understood.

If you’ve received an RFE and are contemplating your next steps in the response process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our qualified immigration attorneys.