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-129F petition or you haven’t provided enough evidence for them to approve the application.
Before the adjudicator (the person reviewing your case) can continue processing your immigration application, you will need to respond to the request for initial evidence (I-797).
I’ll show you how to respond later in this post.
Not every case will receive an RFE, especially if you have provided a lot of evidence of a bona fide relationship, supporting documents for the income requirement and so on.
So, the only time you will receive this letter 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 K1 visa.
Note: the image on the left is an RFE sent to someone that applied for the I-130 petition, but it looks exactly the same as the one sent for the I-129F petition.
Top Reasons USCIS Issues an RFE:
- Not enough evidence of bona fide ongoing relationship
- Not enough income for the petitioner’s household (plus the beneficiary)
- Lacking evidence to show where where petitioner gets their income from
- You missed checking a box on the I-129F or K1 visa application
- Inconsistencies on your fiance visa application
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How Do I Avoid Getting an RFE?
Of course it’s best to think about how to avoid an RFE before you submit your I-129F petition but even if you didn’t, there are some ways to make sure that you respond to it correctly.
When you first submit your I-129F petition asking USCIS for permission to apply for the K1 visa, USCIS will quickly review the documents are included. If everything looks good, they will then cash your check and send you the first notice of action.
Then, your case just sits on an adjudicator’s desk collecting dust.
That’s why there are 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 in depth and notice at this time 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-129F petition and if a question doesn’t apply to you, type in “NA”.
- Include as much evidence of bona fide relationship as possible (there’s no such thing as too much!)
- Make sure that all documents are translated into English by a translator
- You must include an intent to marry your fiance (yes, USCIS wants you to promise to marry)
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” and their logo.
It will be mailed to the petitioner’s address on file which is why you need to keep them 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. 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.
But I already sent USCIS that!
You will never win this argument. This is why I recommend making an entire copy of the I-129f petition before sending it to USCIS because lost paperwork happens often.
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?
If you don’t respond within the time frame that USCIS requires, you petition will be denied due to abandonment. Even if you did respond but it was after the date they required the documents, they will likely deny your petition.
Remember, your filing fee is not refundable so if you want them to approve your fiance for the K1 visa, you’ll need to reapply and start over from the beginning.
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-129F RECEIPT #”.
This will ensure that they know this is a first response to an RFE for your fiance 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.