When one submits an application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are forms, fees and supporting evidence to include. Each application for relief has its own set of eligibility requirements. If USCIS feels that you did not submit enough evidence to support your application, then it will send you what is called a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) to the address indicated on your Petition. A Request for Evidence does not necessarily mean your application will be denied.
Contents of a Standard Request for Evidence
The Request for Evidence will start with an explanation of the law under which you are applying. This language may be complex, but it sets the stage for what USCIS is asking of you.
The Request for Evidence will then set forth the deficiencies in your application. It can be a detailed letter with specific requests, but on occasion may be a general request for more information than what you already submitted. The latter scenario is more challenging. In both cases, however, USCIS is giving you an opportunity to submit additional evidence to strengthen your application.
The letter will also provide a deadline by which it wants you to respond as well as the relevant address to send your Request for Evidence. The time in which USCIS sets a deadline for individuals to respond to a Request for Evidence is typically between 33 and 90 days. The response to the Request for Evidence is often sent to a different address than where you originally submitted your Application.
Consideration of your application will pause during the period given for you to respond to the Request for Evidence.
How To Approach Your Response To The Request for Evidence
You should review the letter carefully. Note whether they have listed all the evidence you submitted in your initial application. If an item you submitted is not noted, it is possible that it was overlooked or even lost. You should submit that form of proof again.
Consider the list of items that USCIS says are missing. Ask yourself whether you were unable to obtain one of these documents. It is possible that USCIS has provided you with alternate options to prove one of the eligibility requirements for your application. It would be important to try and obtain one of the alternative items being requested.
Start working on obtaining the missing and/or alternative items as soon as possible. The deadline set by USCIS is a firm one.
If you cannot find or obtain the missing items, then acknowledge this fact in your response to USCIS and provide an explanation as to why the requested items are not available. For example, certain agencies only keep documents for a certain period of time. If this is the reason in your particular circumstance, obtain a letter from the relevant agency to explain your inability to provide the requested item. Otherwise, you will likely be perceived to have simply ignored the request from USCIS.
Finally, if you realize that you might actually have additional (but unrequested) forms of evidence that would bolster your application, then feel free to include them in your response to the Request for Evidence.
Importance of Responding
If you receive a Request for Evidence, then it is important to immediately work on responding to it. If you don’t, then your application will be decided solely on what you originally submitted. This could actually mean a denial of your application. If USICS has given you an opportunity v to provide additional details by way of a Request for Evidence, then take it! You will have only a chance to do so.
It is important to submit all the requested evidence at the same time. Take the time to collect the requested items and respond within the designated time period in one organized effort.
Again, note the relevant address to which you must mail your response. You can expect that USCIS will request that you place the original (blue) RFE correspondence on top of your response. Finally, make a copy of your submission and send it via a form of mail that can be tracked (such as FedEx, UPS or USPS Priority). Pay for a tracking number. This will give you peace of mind that it arrived on time and before the response deadline. It will also provide you with proof of a timely response in case USCIS ultimately denies your application due to failure to respond within the requested time period.
Although a Request for Evidence can be daunting, consider it as an opportunity to bolster your application. The request can often be broken down and addressed in a systematic manner. Include all items that have been requested and explain why certain items can’t be obtained. Take the opportunity to include additional evidence if you have it.
A Request for Evidence will delay your case due to the pause on the processing while USCIS waits for your response. It is best to avoid a Request for Evidence by preparing and submitting an organized and complete application at the beginning. Regardless, it is possible to effectively respond to a Request for Evidence and have a positive outcome.
The decision from USCIS will typically come about 60 days after they receive your response to the Request for Evidence.
It is imperative to respond to a Request for Evidence. If you do not, then your application will be considered abandoned. Alternatively, a decision will be made on your original submission, which may result in a denial. If you do not plan to respond for whatever reason, it may be preferable to withdraw your application. An experienced immigration attorney can assess the completeness of your initial application and guide you in responding in a thorough and strong manner. We can assist you in this regard.