Request for Evidence (RFE): What You Need to Know

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You applied for an Immigration benefit. You filled out forms, included documents, and sent it out to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You did your best to make sure you submitted all possible information and filled out all forms correctly. For you, this application includes not only your biographic information but your dreams, your aspirations, the hope of reuniting with your loved ones, a better career opportunity, and more. You eagerly waited for a favorable decision, but instead- you received a letter titled “Request for Evidence” or “RFE” for short. This was not what you expected! Did you make a mistake? What “Evidence” are they talking about? Does immigration want to deny your application? 

Need help with your immigration situation? Brudner Law is ready to take your case.

What is Request for Evidence (RFE)?

An applicant for an immigration benefit has the burden of proving his/her eligibility for this benefit. Receiving an RFE means that USCIS believes that you have not met that burden, meaning you have not submitted sufficient information or documents for USCIS to approve your application. In other words, an RFE implies that you are going to have to do more work to better support your application. However, in many cases, officers “thinking” they cannot adjudicate a case based on the evidence already submitted does not mean they are necessarily correct.

Why Do People Get a RFE?

The reasons why people get a RFE can vary. A Request for evidence can be issued for a minor mistake in the filing that can be easily “fixed” (for example- you forgot to include one of the necessary documents). In other cases, a Request for evidence can challenge your fundamental eligibility to the benefit you are requesting- and can require that you provide a legal and/or factual analysis that supports your claim. In most cases, USCIS issues the RFE to give you an opportunity to supplement the application with the necessary documentation/legal arguments.

Below are some of the common reasons because of which you may get an RFE from USCIS:

Related:Immigration Interview Questions You Need to Know

Missing Evidence

It is important that you provide all relevant documentation required for your petition. USCIS provides a list of required and mandatory evidence on their website. It is crucial to check the USCIS website before every submission since they often change the requirements. If you fail to include one of the required documents- USCIS can issue an RFE, reject or even deny your case!

Lack of Income

Lack of income can be a significant factor in deciding cases. For example- In family-based petitions, USCIS requires that the U.S. citizen/Green card holder petitioner submit an Affidavit of Support (form I-864). Failing to provide enough documentation to prove sufficient income is a cause of concern. It is advisable that you provide information related to all the assets and all sources of income if you deem that your primary source of income is not enough to cover a family’s expenses. You can also get another family member to co-sponsor if needed.

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Proof of Legal Entry

If the spouse seeking a green card is already within the United States, you must prove that he or she entered the United States legally.

You may provide a stamped passport or a copy of your I-94 Travel history, the form that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses to track arrivals and departures.

You can also provide reasons for travel to the U.S., which could be studied, for a vacation or business meeting. You can also show the proof of activities you undertook while you stay in the U.S. and prove to the department that you have adhered to all policies and laws in relation to your stay in the U.S.

Related: What are the Eligibility Criteria for U.S. Citizenship?

Missing Document Translation

All the evidence and documents that you present to USCIS must be in English. If any of your documents are in a language other than English, you must provide a translation made by someone other than you or your spouse. These translations have to be certified, which means that the translator must certify in writing that he or she has translated the document accurately. The certification should include the translator’s name, address, and signature, as well as the date the translation was completed. This is very important as providing the translations in a timely manner ensures that USCIS doesn’t have to wait to understand the content unnecessarily.  

Abnormal Cases

Sometimes certain things need to be explained in detail. It is advisable that you proactively provide additional explanations or evidence to preempt questions from USCIS. For example, suppose you previously applied for a green card for someone else (an ex-spouse) but ended up withdrawing your green card application. In that case, you should include a written explanation of that situation. Being proactive and providing additional details will help put your case in a better and organized way to USCIS, and there will be more reasons for them to adjudicate your submission favorably. 

Related: Immigration FAQ

What to do if you receive a RFE?

RFEs should be read carefully and submitted promptly before the deadline—usually between 30 to 90 days—as an applicant will only have one chance to respond. Additionally, because a nonresponse is a near guarantee that the application or petition will be denied, an applicant must comply with all requests for information as thoroughly as possible in a single response. Responses to an RFE have a higher chance of approval when they are better organized. Applicants should ensure that the information they provide is consistent, easy to locate, and not lacking in substance. 

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Closing Remarks 

Many people have the misconception that applying for an immigration benefit is just a matter of filling out formswhen, in fact, it involves much more than that! An RFE can be easily avoided if you can provide all sufficient information in the first go.  

At Brudner law we are committed to providing excellent service, we have a specialized legal team with years of experience handling and preparing cases for our clients. We have a significant understanding of the documentation required for immigration applications. A good immigration lawyer on your side can make a substantial difference in the resolution of your case! As explained above, it is not necessarily your fault if you receive a RFE and there could be possible errors. We are apt at handling such issues, and we will make sure that the only thing you need to worry about an immigration process is planning your future in the U.S. Leave the Immigration matters with USCIS to us!

Contact us today for a consultation.