What is a Request for Evidence (RFE)?
Request for initial evidence (or better known as an RFE) is a letter that USCIS or the National Visa Center mails you when something is missing from I-130 petition or you haven’t provided enough evidence for them to approve the application.
The adjudicator (the person reviewing your case) won’t continue to process your immigration application until you respond to the request for initial evidence (I-797).
I’ll show you how to respond later in this post.
Not every I-130 petition will receive an RFE, especially if you have provided a lot of evidence of a bona fide marriage, supporting documents for the income requirement and so on.
So, the only time you will receive this letter during your CR1 visa process is if you didn’t include a document that USCIS needs or you didn’t provide enough evidence for them to determine that you are eligible for the CR1 visa.
Top Reasons USCIS Issues an RFE:
- Not enough evidence of bona fide marriage
- Not enough income for the petitioner’s household
- Lacking evidence to show where the petitioner’s income is coming from
- Missed checking a box on the I-130 or CR1 visa application
- Inconsistencies on your visa application
How Do I Avoid Getting an RFE?
Most people don’t think about an RFE until it’s too late. If you can get prepared before you even submit your petition, you increase your chances of your petition being approved without triggering an RFE.
When you first send your I-130 petition asking USCIS for permission to apply for the CR1 visa for your spouse, USCIS will quickly review the documents you included. If everything looks right, they will then cash your check and send you the first notice of action.
Then, your case will sit around on an adjudicator’s desk collecting dust.
That’s why there is a lag of a few months between the time you send your petition and when you receive an RFE.
Once the adjudicator gets to your case, they will review it more closely and that’s when they notice that something is missing. They can’t make a final decision without this missing piece of information so they’ll send you a request for initial evidence letter.
So, How Do You Avoid Getting an RFE?
- Fill out all the fields on the I-130 petition and if a question doesn’t apply to you, type in “NA”.
- Include as much evidence of bona fide marriage as possible (there’s no such thing as too much!)
- Make sure that all documents are translated into English by a translator
RFE - Frequently Asked Questions
How will USCIS send an RFE?
In almost all cases, USCIS will send a letter in the mail to the petitioner (US fiance). The letter will show that the it is from the “United States Citizenship and Immigration Services” with their logo.
It will be mailed to the petitioner’s address on file which is why you should keep USCIS updated whenever you move to another address.
What do they look like?
The request for evidence letter looks much like the letters that USCIS sends for other types of communication. It can written on white or yellow paper.
You can click here to view an actual RFE that is sent.
The RFE will either list or check mark the missing documents and let you know how long you have to respond.
USCIS is asking for the same documents I already sent!
Trust me, you will never win this argument. This is why you should always make complete copies of your entire petition before you send it. This way, you can quickly react to a request for evidence where USCIS lost a document you already sent.
Even if you know for sure that you already sent it, just take out your copy of the missing document and resend it.
What happens if I don’t respond?
First of all, you should ALWAYS respond to an RFE. But let’s say that you moved and didnt receive the letter in the mail letting you know that they need more evidence.
In this case, your petition will be denied due to abandonment. USCIS will try to send you another letter saying that your case has been denied and case is now closed.
Filing fees are not refundable so if you don’t want to lose your money, check the online case status website at uscis.gov just in case you don’t receive the mail.
How should I respond to an RFE?
When responding to an RFE, remember to include everything that USCIS is requesting for. Then on the front of the envelope you should write “FIRST SUBMISSION – RFE I-130 RECEIPT #”.
This will ensure that they know this is a first response to an RFE for your spouse visa petition and includes your receipt number that is located on the first notice of action (I-797). They use this receipt number to quickly match it to your case that is still in progress.
USCIS usually gives you 30-90 days to respond to an RFE.