When an applicant submits an immigration petition application with USCIS or through consular processing, one possible result of the petition or application is a Request for Evidence (a “RFE,” though consulates may use a different name). A RFE is a request for additional documents after a reviewing officer has determined that the petition/application is lacking required evidence or that the officer needs more documentation to determine an applicant’s eligibility for the benefit sought. The notice will indicate what evidence is requested to complete the evaluation of the petition/application, where to send the additional documents, and the deadline for your response. The petition/application will be held in suspense during that time.
Keep in mind that an RFE is not a denial of the application, and does not mean that a denial of your application is imminent or inevitable. It simply means that the reviewing officer has determined that, in his/her opinion, the application was either lacking required evidence or that more information is needed to make a final determination. While the reviewing officer strives to complete an evaluation of an application in accordance of the law, they are also human and make mistakes. We have received RFEs that request information or documents that were provided in the original application, or misrepresent the requirements of the law. Though a RFE does not mean a denial of the application, it will result in a delay of the application’s processing and will require additional work and expense. A careful response is required to get the application approved.
What Are My Options for Submitting a Response?
Generally speaking, you have three options when it comes to submitting a response to a RFE: (1) submit all of the requested documentation/information prior to the deadline, (2) submit a partial response by providing some of the evidence requested (if you submit a partial response, USCIS will consider the application on the information provided at that time), (3) do not respond to the RFE. If you do not respond to a RFE or fail to respond prior to the deadline, USCIS will either adjudicate the application without the requested documents, or deem your application abandoned. In both scenarios, the result is usually a denial of the application.
Submitting a Response
Whether you submit all or some of the information requested, it is important to note that you only get one chance to respond to the RFE. USCIS requires that a response is submitted at one time, therefore if you include only some of the documents requested by the RFE in your response, the government will take this to mean you want your file adjudicated based on the partial documents provided. While it is not advisable to submit a partial response, this may be a requirement due to time constraints or the limitation of available evidence. In rare instances, USCIS will issue an addition RFE or a NOID.
To find out more about possible government responses to visa petitions, click here.
The length of time it takes to assemble and submit a response depends on the information requested in the RFE. Sometimes an RFE requests specific documents that were missing at the time of filing, while other requests are much more exhaustive. Our firm recently submitted an RFE that was over 1000 pages and the RFE response was longer than the original petition. It is important that you consult with an immigration attorney in order to maximize your chances of getting your application approved.
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