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USCIS' RFE Regulations and Important
Issues to Remember When Answering an Request for Evidence

1. USCIS' Internal Memos for Request For Evidence

USCIS has issued two Memorandums reminding Regional Directors, Service Center Directors, District Directors, and Officers-in-Charge that immigration regulations do not require a Request For Evidence (RFE) in every instance before issuing a denial. These Memos further describe situations in which the USCIS does not believe an RFE will be required.

Although the intent of these Memos may be to expedite processing of cases, there are some concern that this may result in more denials, without affording the employer or applicant an opportunity to respond to an RFE. With these Memos, the USCIS is exploring an avenue to reduce the time it takes to process cases and to reduce its case backlogs. When USCIS examiners issue RFEs, it is time-consuming, expensive, and slows the entire adjudications process. 

The first RFE memo on May 2004 states that an application or petition may be approved or denied without a Request For Evidence or Notice Of Intent To Deny in some specific instances. An application or petition may be denied if there is clear evidence of ineligibility, notwithstanding the lack of initial evidence. Ineligibility exists when the adjudicator can be sure that an applicant or petitioner cannot meet a basic statutory or regulatory requirement, even if the filer were to be given the opportunity to present additional information. Another instance in which this is possible is a case in which all of the required evidence has been submitted and the case is approvable. An applicant or petitioner must establish eligibility for the requested benefit, but when eligibility has been established, the case should be approved. 

The second RFE memo on February 2005 states that if all of the required evidence has been submitted, then a case is approvable. An applicant or petitioner must establish eligibility for the requested benefit, but when eligibility has been established, the case should be approved. If the record is complete with respect to all of the required initial evidence as specified in the regulations and on the application or petition and accompanying instructions, the USCIS adjudicator is not required to issue a RFE to obtain further documentation to support an approval based on that record.

2. USCIS' Regulations for Issuing a Request For Evidence, and How to Make a Decision of Approval or Denial

The following rules are from the USCIS internal regulations and memos for issuing RFE and reviewing the RFE response:

1) A RFE is most appropriate when a particular piece or pieces of necessary evidence are missing, and the highest quality RFE is one that limits the request to the missing evidence. Generally it is unacceptable to issue a RFE for a broad range of evidence. The "broad brush" RFEs tend to generate "broad brush" responses that overburden petitioners, over-document the file, and waste examination resources through the review of unnecessary, duplicative, or irrelevant documents.

2) While it is sensible to use well articulated templates that set out an array of common components of RFEs for a particular case type, it is not normally appropriate to "dump" the entire template in a RFE; instead, the record must be examined for what is missing, and a limited, specific RFE should be sent, using the relevant portion from the template. The RFE should set forth what is required in a comprehensible manner so that the filer is sufficiently informed of what is required. If a filing is so lacking in initial evidence that a "wholesale" RFE from a template seems appropriate, an adjudicator should confirm this with a supervisor before doing so.

3) It can be helpful to petitioners to articulate how and why information already submitted is not sufficient or persuasive on a particular issue. Petitioners can become confused and frustrated when they receive general requests for information that they believe they have already submitted. The effort it takes to assess existing evidence helps either to spur the petitioner to provide persuasive evidence, or to form the basis of a convincing denial notice in the absence of such new evidence. 

4) Upon receipt of response to a RFE, an adjudicator should review all relevant evidence, which may include evidence previously submitted and now supplemented. It is not normally appropriate to review the response without reference to the existing record. Normally, it should be appropriate to approve or deny a case without further RFE. Sometimes, however, a RFE response opens a new line of inquiry requiring a new RFE. In other cases, a RFE response may provide the missing initial evidence, but now the combined record requires notice to the petitioner why the record appears unpersuasive, so that a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) is required. It should be rare to follow a NOID with a new RFE or NOID, rather than approval or denial.

3. It Is Critical to Submit the Required Evidence

It is critical for petitioners, beneficiaries, and applicants to submit the required evidence proving eligibility for the immigration benefits sought at the time of filing. Otherwise, under these USCIS Memos, the petition or application may be denied with or without an RFE. If a person is not eligible for the immigration benefit sought, then it would make sense that the petition should be denied, but sometimes there may be errors that could be clarified with an RFE response.

The USCIS advises its adjudicators that an RFE is not required if the record appears complete. The noteworthy example here is the "ability to pay" question in an I-140 petition based on an employer's sponsorship. While there can be a number of documents the petitioner may choose to submit to show its financial ability to pay an employee's salary, the USCIS adjudicator is not required to issue an RFE, as long as the petitioner sent at least one of the required documents. 

If the adjudicator does not believe that the particular document establishes the ability of the sponsoring employer to pay the I-140 employee or beneficiary the prevailing wage, then the adjudicator may deny the case without an RFE's requesting additional evidence from the employer, for its ability to pay. In many cases, due to the burdens of obtaining each financial record and concern for the privacy of such information, employers or petitioners are reluctant to provide every financial document that could prove the employer's ability to pay the required prevailing wage upfront.

4. Important Issues to Remember When Answering an Request for Evidence

A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a common tool used by the USCIS to ask for additional proof in order to make a decision on your case. RFEs are often requesting factual information from either the beneficiary or petitioner. While many RFEs are simple, other RFE's have become more complicated to be answered. The important issues to remember when answering an Request for Evidence include:

A well prepared case can avoid an RFE: RFEs are usually requested because either the petitioner or beneficiary has not provided sufficient proofs or clarification in their original package. Therefore, preparing a completed and detailed package with your application is crucial to the success of your case. On the other hand, putting irrelevant and unnecessary information in your petition can harm you. 

Read the RFE carefully: Many people do not read the RFEs properly or they simply do not understand the lingo. 

Do not panic when you receive the RFE: As mentioned earlier, RFEs are common tools in the USCIS tool box. You should not panic. On the other hand, you should not take it lightly. 

Do not miss the deadline when answering the RFE: Answer your RFE on time. Indeed, many people believe that they can request additional time to answer their RFEs. Unfortunately, USCIS has not been giving additional time to answer RFEs. Missing the deadline will most likely result in a denial. Therefore, do not be late. 

Do not file the RFE in parts: Some applicants think that they can answer part of the RFE and then wait for USCIS to ask for more. Unfortunately, the way USCIS functions, they rarely send another RFE to give you another chance. The first RFE you receive is normally your only chance to give USCIS the clarification they require. Therefore, it is essential that you answer all the questions as concisely as possible, and provide all the evidence requested of you at the same time. Failure to do so will probably result in a denial. 

Organize your answer in a clear manner: Remember you are not writing an essay. Stay concise and to the point. Make sure you document your answer with exhibits. Write your RFE in a way that is easy to navigate. Keep in mind that an actual person will be reading your RFE, thus the more comprehensible your RFE is, the better your chances for approval. 

Remember to put the colored paper at the top of your answer: Most RFEs are sent in colored paper. It is essential that this RFE notice letter goes above all your answers including your response cover letter. Failure to do this might delay your case, or even possibly lead to a rejected case. 

Make sure you are mailing to the right address: The RFE will indicate where you should mail your answer. Make sure you are mailing it to the right address. If you fail to comply, your RFE response will probably be lost, and you may get a denial. 

Be polite when answering: Be polite when you write your RFE. There are cases where the person answering will be insulting USCIS, because they have either asked for something already submitted, or asking for clarification in a non relevant matter. Remember, many cases are decided by the discretion of the adjudicating officer. Answering in a polite and civilized manner can go a long way towards helping your case. 

5. Obtain Additional Reference Letters for Your Request For Evidences Response

For the response of Request For Evidences notice from USCIS, the foreign national should obtain multiple reference letters or recommendation letters from recognized experts in their academic field. The majority of these letters should be from independent experts outside the alien applicant's circle, and preferably from international sources. The letters should evidence the foreign national’s international recognition as outstanding in their field and original scientific or scholarly research contributions. The letters should state that the foreign national is outstanding and in what ways.

Generally, scholarly work is expressed in specialized language. In order to assist the alien’s original contributions in the field, USCIS adjudicators will consider the reference letters from the experts in the field for the alien’s contributions.

But not all reference letters could help to provide such analysis. The reference letters that specifically indicate how the alien beneficiary has contributed to the field and its impact on subsequent work would add value for an immigrant visa application. On the other hand, the reference letters do not include specifics, and simply use hyperbolic language do not add value for an immigrant visa application.

The reference letters may substantially boost the chance of a successful petition. The USCIS believes that an alien applicant with international recognition of outstanding ability should have unsolicited materials reflecting the outstanding ability acclaim. Thus, reference letters from independent experts should carry more weight, and they are proof of the alien's accomplishments. 

If an alien applicant's contributions in the field are not praised widely outside the circle of acquaintances, then it could not be concluded that the alien applicant has earned sustained national and international recognition. Thus USCIS may not give much weight to reference letters from the alien's circle of colleagues, for his/her original contributions of major significance in the field. Normally, the alien applicant should include three additional reference letters for the response of Request For Evidences notice from USCIS.

In addition to be an expert in the field of your endeavor, it will be better if the person writing you a recommendation letter knows about your research and contribution enough to specifically address details in the recommendation letter. Therefore, although someone who has a prominent reputation in the field of your endeavor will be a better candidate than someone from your immediate circle of acquaintances, a perfect candidate will be an expert familiarizing your contribution. An additional recommendation letter from your existing or prospective employer is also appropriate.

6. How to Organize the Evidence Accompanied with Your Response for Request For Evidences 

Follow the tips below for how to organize the requested additional evidence for your Request For Evidence response:

1) Provide ALL requested documentation and evidence required in the RFE notice. Your petitions may be denied after a Request For Evidence response, if not all required evidence are not submitted.

2) All foreign language documents must be submitted with a corresponding English translation. The English translation must be certified by a translator who is competent to translate and must verify in writing that “the translation is true and accurate to the best of the translator's abilities.“ It is helpful if the English translation is stapled to the foreign language document.

3) If documenting the alien's publications or citations of the alien beneficiary's work, highlight the alien's name in the relevant articles. It is not necessary to send the full copy of a dissertation, thesis, or research paper written by the alien beneficiary, or one in which the alien beneficiary's work has been cited. Include the title page and the portions that cite the alien's work. 

4) Tab and label the evidentiary exhibits at the bottom of the first page of each exhibit, and provide a list of the evidentiary exhibits and the eligibility criteria that each exhibit is submitted to establish for petitions supported by a substantial amount of documentation. An exhibit that is being provided to meet multiple eligibility criteria should be so identified in the exhibit list.

7. How to Assemble and Send RFE Response to USCIS

Before sending your Request For Evidence (RFE) response to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you should make a duplicate copy of the USCIS' RFE notice, and save it for your records, because the original RFE notice should be the first page of your RFE response packet.

After receiving your RFE response packet, USCIS will scan the RFE notice and forward it for further processing. Therefore, if you do not include the RFE notice, or if it is not on top of your RFE response packet, you can expect further delays for your Green Card application process.

Also, you need to write a response cover letter that clearly outlines the contents of your submission, and it should reply each of the RFE requests in detail. The cover letter should be organized very similarly to the RFE requests, so that you can show the USCIS adjudicator handling your petition case that you provided all of the requested information. You should also make copies all of the documents that you send to USCIS, and save them for your records.

The RFE notice should include the USCIS address to which your RFE response should be mailed. You should make sure that you mail the RFE response to that USCIS address, and not any other USCIS address to which you may have sent documents before.

It is better to send your RFE response via priority mail with delivery confirmation, so that you have proof that you complied the USCIS requirements with the deadline.

8. Complete Do-It-Yourself Packages for Request For Evidences for EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-1C, NIW, O-1, and L-1 Visa

To reply the USCIS'  Request For Evidence for your immigration or visa application, one way is that you can do-it-yourself for free by following the instructions in the Notice of Request For Evidence. The better way is that you can order our Complete Do-It-Yourself Package to help you going through the crucial and complicated process. 

If you get a Request For Evidence (RFE) notice from an USCIS Service Center, it is necessary that you must work hard to provide requested evidence and persuade the USCIS officers to approve your case. It is critical to appropriately and proficiently reply the Request For Evidence. Incorrect response to the RFE will directly result in your petition rejection.   

To help you replying the RFE easily and quickly, we provide the high quality and case-proven Complete Do-It-Yourself Packages for Request For Evidence, for I-140 petition of EB1-Extraordinary Ability (EB1-EA, EB1A), EB1-Outstanding Researcher or Professor (EB1-OR, EB1B), EB1-Multinational Executives or Managers (EB1C), National Interest Waiver, O-1 Visa Application and Extension (O-1A and O-1B), and L-1 Visa Application and Extension (L-1A and L-1B).

As added value in the Complete Do-It-Yourself Package for Request For Evidence, we provide comprehensive instructions on USCIS REF requirements and processing, and we also present methods of analyzing RFE questions, RFE replying strategies, means of strengthening your case, detailed RFE cases analysis, sample cover letters, sample reference letters, and more. With the RFE package, you get all the information you need and step-by-step knowledge and strategies of how to prepare an efficient, professional, and complete response to your RFE notice, and eventually get your Green Card approval.


More Articles about Request For Evidence (RFE) Response Process
RFE Regulations and Issues for Request for Evidence
Typical Requests and Questions Asked in RFE Notice
How to Prepare RFE Response for EB1 Extraordinary Ability 
How to Prepare RFE Response for EB1 Outstanding Researcher 
How to Prepare RFE Response for EB1 Executive / Manager 
How to Prepare RFE Response for National Interest Waiver  
How to Prepare RFE Response for L-1A Visa or L-1B Visa 
How to Prepare RFE Response for O-1A Visa or O-1B Visa 
Frequently Asked RFE Questions and Answers for EB-1A, EB-1B, NIW
Frequently Asked RFE Questions and Answers for EB-1C, L1 Visa
Frequently Asked RFE Questions and Answers for O-1 Visa
William's Answers for RFE Response Questions
USCIS Memorandum #1 on Requests For Evidence
USCIS Memorandum #2 on Requests For Evidence
Do-It-Yourself Packages for RFE of EB-1A, EB-1B, EB-1C, NIW, O-1 Visa, and L1 Visa
Request For Evidence (RFE) for Green Card and Visa Application
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