Understanding USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE) and How to Prevent RFE Issuance

Request for Evidence(RFE) is issued when USCIS wants to review additional documents and evidence. RFE can be daunting when received. However, understanding the RFE meaning and what documents it is requesting can result in a successful approval of your Green Card application. In this article, we will look into the RFE notice, how to respond to it and ultimately how to prevent the RFE issuance.

I. What is RFE (USCIS Request for Evidence/Request for Additional Evidence)?

In general, if the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) required additional documentation and evidence to further support filings and submissions, Form I-797E, Notice of Action, is issued to request for additional evidence.

Receiving an RFE is not indicative of a denial of your submission or filing. However, it is imperative that the requested additional documentation or evidence be submitted within the proposed deadline. Should the requested documentation or evidence be not submitted in return, then it is likely that the USCIS will process your submission or filing with the current information, which may lead to a denial.

II. What are the parts of the RFE notice?

When an RFE is issued, this does not necessarily mean that the reviewing officer has determined ineligibility of the marriage Green Card application. The reviewing officers are trained to look for inconsistencies and have a rubric of documentation to review to determine whether an RFE is necessary. The following are information that will be provided to make responding to an RFE an easier task:

  1. General Notice Language: The RFE notice will generally begin indicating the submission of the original application, the type of application received, and the date received
  2. Statement of Law: The RFE notice will also continue with sections of relevant law depending on the type of application submitted
  3. List of Submitted Evidence: The RFE notice will list submitted documentation and evidence
    • It is imperative to review the list to ensure that all submitted documentation and evidence has been accounted
    • Should there be any documentation and evidence not submitted, it is important to list these and provide them in the response to the RFE
  4. RFE Issues: The RFE notice will list ineligibilities, deficiencies in documentation and evidence, and any other issues with the submitted application
    • It is imperative to review the list and determine what documentation and evidence would cure noted deficiencies or ineligibilities
    • The RFE notice may provide alternate documentation that can be submitted in lieu of missing documentation and evidence. It is important to make a list of these items as well
  5. Deadline for RFE Response: The RFE notice will provide a deadline for when the RFE response is due.
    • It is important that these deadlines be taken seriously, as any failure to provide additional documentation or evidence will lead to the review officer to make a decision based on the provided information, documentation and evidence. This will most likely result in a denial of the application
    • If the deadline is listed in days, rather than a specific date, it is important to count the dates from the issuance of the RFE, rather than date of receipt of the RFE.

III. How to respond to USCIS Request for Evidence?

When receiving the USCIS Request for Evidence, the first thing to do is not panic. The RFE is a tool for the USCIS to review your submission or filing further. The following steps will assist in ensuring that your response to USCIS Request for Evidence is done properly and on time:

  1. Review the RFE notice and determine what items are requested
  2. Review the original submission or filing to see what evidence was initially provided
  3. Collect and organize all newly requested documentation and evidence
  4. An explanation supporting reasons that certain documentation and evidence cannot be provided
  5. Resubmit all requested items in the RFE along with the Notice for RFE, by the deadline indicated on the Notice for RFE

If certain documents are requested in the RFE that have already been provided in the initial submission or filing, you may photocopy the items from your original submission and provide an explanation in your response to the RFE. Furthermore, should there be any documents that cannot be provided due to unavailability or destruction, the applicant may need to provide letters from the business record in charge of such document, along with any other affidavit(s) from other family members or individuals with knowledge of relevant facts.

IV. How to prevent receiving the USCIS Request for Evidence?

Although the Green Card application can be prepared meticulously, sometimes, RFEs are issued. It is best to make sure that the initial submission or filing is sufficiently detailed from the beginning. The following are scenarios that may warrant an RFE:

  1. Missing crucial supporting documentation

    • Evidence supporting the eligibility of a Green Card
    • Evidence supporting the bona fide marriage for marriage Green Card
  2. Minimum Income Requirement not met

    • Evidence supporting the minimum income requirement
  3. Missing crucial immigration documents

    • Immigration documents showing lawful entry into the United States [e.g. Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record)]
  4. Missing translated documents

    • Foreign language documents need to be translated into English and certified

V. Frequently asked questions

  1. Is there a difference between request for evidence and request for additional evidence?

No, USCIS request for evidence (RFE, Form I-797E) refers to a request for additional evidence.

  1. What happens after sending the RFE response? How long does USCIS take to respond to RFE?

USCIS REFs are typically sent out within two to three (2-3) months after the initial submission of Form I-130. Once response to the RFE is deemed complete, the Green Card application is back on the track for the next step.