Responding To A Request For Evidence
A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a formal written request issued by USCIS (immigration services) which asks for additional information in order to make a decision on your case or to further your case to the next step. It is usually on blue-colored paper and has a strict deadline. This is a very important document, and failure to comply thoroughly and timely often results in a denial of a case. Typically an RFE requests missing information that was not provided by an applicant. However, sometimes the RFE requests information that was provided but may have been difficult to read or simply can’t be found in the documents submitted in the case. Therefore, it is extremely important to properly organize all documents at the onset of submitting an application for an immigration benefit in an effort to avoid unnecessary RFEs.
The following are some tips in handling RFEs successfully:
- Review your original submission and determine if the item(s) were already sent; if so, copy them and send them in again. Do not send in sarcastic remarks stating that it was already sent in, you missed it, etc. This can anger the adjudicator and drastic results may result.
- Avoid RFEs by preparing a detailed and complete submission with your original application. Follow the application instructions carefully. However, be careful not to overdo your documents. Sending in a clear, concise package can prevent RFEs and speed processing of your case.
- Review the RFE carefully. Determine whether the RFE asks for signatures or yes or no boxes to be checked; do not ignore these items.
- Failing to respond to the RFE can undoubtedly lead to a denial. Further, leaving out important documents can result in a denial also. Don’t expect that USCIS will send out another request or give an extension if you leave something out. The RFE is often your last chance to prove your case; USCIS rarely sends out additional RFEs to provide you with a second chance to respond.
- Take the RFE seriously. This is often the last deciding factor of your case. If you, for example, have a copy of a divorce decree but forget to send it, your case may be denied and you will have to refile, appeal or maybe find yourself in removal/deportation proceedings.
- Include the original RFE on the top of your package when returning the missing evidence and put your file number on every page of the submission. This helps to avoid misplaced items.
- Send the response to the RFE by some type of secure mail where you can track the date and proof of mailing — this is especially important to prove you sent it on time in a situation where USCIS perhaps misplaces the documents and you receive a denial. It is much easier, time efficient and less expensive to reopen a case than to start fresh again.
- Make copies of everything. Do not take this important step for granted. If you don’t have copies, how do you prove you sent in the items in the RFE?
- Invest an appropriate amount of time in putting together a concise response. Remember this may be your last chance to obtain an immigration benefit; it is definitely worth the time.
- Be sure that you mail the documents to the correct location. Use the address in the RFE for submission of your documents.
Finally, be mindful that an RFE undoubtedly creates a time lag in your case. In other words, the case processing stops until the RFE is handled. So, if you wait until the last minute (often 90 days), you may be waiting longer for a final decision in your case. This is especially important when clients are waiting for employment authorization documents in an family-based adjustment case. The RFE stops this process, so even though an EAD may typically be sent in 90 days, this time frame is delayed due to the RFE interrupting the normal timeline. These are just a few points to consider when replying to an RFE. RFEs are often a critical part of a case and should be handled competently. Hiring a qualified immigration attorney to assist you in this process can make a big difference. Before applying for any immigration benefits, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney who can properly guide you through the process. Call us today at 813-279-6180. We have offices in Tampa and Clearwater, Florida.