EP16: How To Respond To Request For Evidence (RFE)
We know that submitting an immigrant visa application or green card can be stressful, but you know what is more stressful? Receiving a request for evidence from USCIS! In this episode, we’ll learn how to respond to a request for evidence.
First things first, let’s find out exactly what a request for evidence is and the top reasons you would receive one from USCIS.
A request for evidence is a letter that USCIS sends you if there is a document missing or if they need additional information before deciding on your application.
Mohammad came to the US a K1 fiancé visa and married his fiancé within 90 days of entry. After getting married, they applied to adjust his status for a green card.
Mohammad submitted forms I-485, I-765 and I-131 and quickly received the first notice of action (NOA1) confirming USCIS has received his application. After several more months, he received another letter in the mail.
Unfortunately, this letter was a request for evidence from USCIS. The request wanted additional evidence on a bona fide marriage.
5 Reasons For Receiving A Request For Evidence (RFE)
- Not meeting the income requirement.
- One of the main requirements for an immigrant visa is that the beneficiary is not at risk to becoming a public charge. This means that you will not be on any government welfare altering entering the US or booming a permanent resident. If the petitioner can’t meet the minimum income requirements, USCIS or NVC will ask for additional evidence that you make enough money to sponsor your relative.
- Not submitting enough evidence.
- Evidence is so important to back up your visa or green card application! If you don’t submit enough, it’s a sure fire way to get a n RFE sent to you. To avoid this, you should consider front-loading your application with a huge about of evidence to show your are eligible for the visa or green card.
- Missed checking a box on the petition.
- This is such a simple mistake that can be avoided by simply reviewing your application more than once or have someone else look it over before submitting it to USCIS. Not answering a question on the forms can set you back by weeks or months if you get an RFE.
- Missing supporting documents.
- Supporting documents are not the same as “evidence.” I’d like to think that supporting documents are documents you submit to support the evidence you submit. For example, if you want to show USCIS that you meet the income requirement by providing your salary, then you also need to include your tax transcripts and pay stubs to support your claim on income.
- USCIS lost your paperwork.
- This one frustrates me to no end! When USCIS loses your paperwork or entire application, they’ll send an RFE. Yup – it’s ridiculous but it’s there way of saying “oops, we lost your documents but now we need you to send them again.” There is no reason to try to fight them on this by getting upset they lost it in the first place, it’s best to just send in what they need. This is why I recommend making a copy of your entire petition before mailing it in.
Top 3 Tips To Avoid RFE
- Unavailability of documents should be explained.
- If a document isn’t available, you should explain it upfront with your petition. Don’t wait until your receive an RFE from USCIS to try to explain it. It’s best to be proactive about it so that you can avoid an RFE. For example, if you don’t have an original copy of your birth certificate, explain why and then include a statement from both your parents confirming your birthdate, location and hospital of your birth.
- Strong vs Weak: Some documents considered more authoritative.
- When it comes to evidence, there are two types: strong and weak. It’s ok to include weak evidence as long as you also include plenty of strong evidence to help build your case. But, if all you have is weak evidence supporting your application, you will likely get an RFE requesting additional evidence to help USCIS make their decision.
- Incomplete translations should be avoided or translated entirely.
- If some of the documents you submit are in a foreign language and not in English, expect an RFE to come your way! USCIS wants all foreign documents translated into English. This doesn’t have to be done by a professional translation company, but instead, you can have a friend or family member translate the documents and certify that they are true and accurate translations and that they are fluent in both languages.
How To Respond To Request For Evidence
- Only one chance to respond to RFE.
- When it comes to responding to an RFE, you only get one shot to submit what USCIS is looking for. If you don’t submit all the documents listed on the RFE, you won’t get another chance and will be denied the visa or green card.
- Must submit all requirement documents.
- When you receive an RFE, the letter will describe the list of documents you must submit to USCIS. Make sure that every single one that’s being requested is submitted to USCIS.
- Include cover letter listing all documents.
- A cover letter is important to let USCIS know what documents are being submitted with the RFE. This helps when a document may be misplaced or lost so that USCIS knows that you submitted it but may have gotten lost (again).
- Make duplicate copy of the RFE response.
- If you’ve learned anything from this podcast, it’s that you should make a duplicate copy of everything that you send to USCIS! In case they lose your RFE response, you will easily be able to resend it quickly.
- Mail as priority with confirmation receipt.
- When you mail your RFE response to USCIS, make sure that you request a delivery confirmation or signature requirement. This will give you peace of mind that it got to the right person and iddim’t get lost by the mail man (or mail woman).
- Decision will be 60 days after responding.
- It typically takes about 30-60 days for USCIS to complete review of your response to an RFE. Although they ask that you only call USCIS customer service after 60 days from submitting your RFE response, you can check the case status more frequently on uscis.gov.
Now that you know how to respond to a USCIS request for evidence, has your stress diminished? 🙂
The most important thing is avoiding and RFE if you can by submitting a strong case with enough evidence.
Listen to the podcast to see how I received and RFE and responded to USCIS by submitting the right documents.
PS – if you haven’t done so yet, please rate and review the podcast if you enjoyed this episode! This helps me so much and I really appreciate you taking the time to do this!
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.