Receiving a request for evidence (RFE) from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can be stressful especially after submitting a petition or application.
Every lawyer and ordinary individual know that RFEs come without a warning and with a deadline. Not obeying the deadline could mean the denial of a petition or application. In this article, we will define RFEs and how to avoid getting denied by USCIS because of the Request for Evidence.
A request for evidence in simple terms is a written request for more information and documentation that is mailed when the USCIS believes that there is not enough evidence to approve or deny a given application.
When a person has received an RFE, it is best if they first read it carefully. Reading the RFE carefully will give the individual a clear understanding of what additional evidence is needed. All RFEs identify any missing evidence that is specifically required by USCIS. RFEs also list specific evidence that is required and is typically in a form of a list of additional documents that USCIS needs to make their decision. It is common for this section to be lengthy, however, it does provide alternative options for some of the documentation that's being requested. For example, an RFE requiring the submission of a birth certificate will also usually state that if a birth certificate is not available, school records and “affidavits of birth” may be submitted instead. A USCIS officer will not request any documents that are irrelevant to the request for evidence.
The most important section of the RFE, however, is the deadline which typically appears at the end of the notice. It informs the applicate how long they have to gather the missing evidence and submit it to USCIS. The maximum response time for an RFE is 12 weeks; regulations prohibit officers from granting additional time to respond to an RFE. However, the regulations permit USCIS to assign flexible time frames for benefit requestors to respond to an RFE. This section will also inform the applicant about the consequences of not responding to the RFE on time — basically, a decision will be made based only on documents that were previously submitted and that could mean a denial. It is important to note that USCIS does not follow the date that you mailed out your response, so the applicant must make sure that USCIS receives the response by the deadline stated in the RFE.
Overall, RFEs will cause a massive headache, but they are also an applicant's last best chance to provide the evidence that USCIS needs to hopefully approve your application. They are an applicant's one last opportunity for approval.
- Identify the eligibility requirement(s) that has not been established and why the evidence submitted is insufficient.
- Identify any missing evidence specifically required by the applicable statute, regulation, or form instructions.
- Identify examples of other evidence that may be submitted to establish eligibility; and
- Request that evidence.
An officer should not request evidence that is outside the scope of the adjudication or otherwise irrelevant to an identified deficiency.
The RFE should ask for all the evidence the officer anticipates needing to determine eligibility and should clearly state the deadline for response.
The maximum response time for an RFE is 12 weeks (84 days); regulations prohibit officers from granting additional time to respond to an RFE.
However, the regulations permit USCIS to assign flexible time frames for benefit requestors to respond to an RFE.