Understanding Requests for Evidence (RFE)
A part of our job as immigration attorneys is to respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE) issued by the USCIS. RFE is an official request issued by USCIS to an applicant or petitioner when the USCIS determines that it needs additional documentation or information to make a decision on the case. This article will explain how to respond to USCIS Requests for Evidence (RFE) with practical tips for attorneys and petitioners alike.
What is an RFE?
RFEs are common in the immigration process and are issued to gather more information, supporting or personal documents, forms, seek clarification, or resolve any doubts or concerns regarding a pending application or petition.
Common Reasons for RFE Issuance
Sometimes, RFEs ask for the documentation that was already provided to the USCIS, and sometimes, RFEs mistakenly ask for irrelevant documentation.
Initial Steps After Receiving an RFE
Regardless of what RFE you receive in your particular case, the first and most important thing to do is to read the RFE carefully to understand what the USCIS is requesting and what deadline it sets for your response.
Reading and Understanding the RFE
Pay attention to any specific instructions the RFE contains. It is essential to follow the instructions as they may outline a specific format for the response.
The Importance of Meeting USCIS Deadlines
Meeting the deadline set in the RFE is extremely important. The RFE will indicate a deadline by which you must respond to it. Failure to respond to the RFE in a timely manner may result in the denial of the case altogether.
Preparing Your RFE Response
If you’re unsure about how to respond to the RFE or if you have complex issues in your case, consult with an experienced immigration attorney soon after you receive the RFE as it will take time for an attorney to understand your case and respond to the RFE.
Do not wait until the last day to respond to the RFE, instead, plan in advance and also allow some additional time for the postal service to deliver your response to the USCIS.
If you think the USCIS is asking for something that you have already provided, our recommendation is to respond to the RFE and not ignore it just because what the RFE is asking for was already provided.
Key Components of an Effective RFE Response
Include a cover letter in your response. A cover letter will allow you to argue your position, describe your documentation, and address all concerns that the USCIS outlined in the RFE.
Crafting a Clear and Concise Cover Letter
Your cover letter should contain your case number, your name, and your alien registration number (if any). The letter should be clear and concise.
Responding to Documentation Requests
Remember to explain how your evidence addresses each particular part of the RFE. For example, if the RFE is asking you to provide a copy of your U.S. marriage certificate again, ensure that it conforms to the requirements of the State that issued it, make a clear copy of the marriage certificate, and provide it again.
If the RFE is asking you to provide an immigration form that you think you have already provided, always make sure that you provide the signed form again.
Finalizing and Sending Your RFE Response
When you have your RFE response ready to go, make a copy or scan of your entire response with a copy of the RFE for your records.
Recommended Mailing Practices
We prefer sending our RFE responses through certified mail or courier, and we recommend that you do the same. Keep the tracking number to track the delivery and check on the delivery of your response within a week of sending it out.
To make sure that your RFE was received by the USCIS, you may call the USCIS or chat with EMMA.
Dealing with Complex RFEs
Remember that RFEs can be different. Sometimes, they are straightforward and easy to understand and respond to, and sometimes the RFEs are tricky and/or contain legal language that could be hard to understand for a non-attorney.
When to Seek Professional Legal Assistance
If you’re unsure about any aspect of the RFE or how to respond, contact an immigration attorney to assist you with the response.
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