What Is a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

After submitting your green card application, you might expect to be done with everything on your end. However, within the next three months, you may receive a request for evidence (RFE) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Most green card applicants get a request for evidence. While an RFE does not necessarily mean your application will be denied, you must take it seriously. This will be your last opportunity to submit new evidence while your petition to immigration is pending.

a couple opens their mail and get unpleasant surprise
A couple opens their mail and gets an unpleasant surprise. A request for evidence (RFE) can come as a shock to green card applicants.

Understanding a Request for Evidence

A request for evidence is essentially what it sounds like. It is a request for additional documentation. An RFE is mailed from USCIS to petitioners for citizenship, permanent residency, family visas, and work visas. Petitioners may be issued an RFE after submitting important forms including:

You can also receive an RFE after your interview if your spouse is sponsoring you for permanent resident status, also known as a marriage green card. An RFE is often seen as a source of anxiety, but it does not mean that your application is at greater risk for rejection. It simply means that your case needs more supporting documentation.

What to Do if You Get an RFE

If you receive a written request for evidence, you will need to respond by sending a document packet to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Read Through it Mindfully

Read your RFE carefully to ensure you understand what is being asked of you. If you are asked to submit anything you have already submitted, that could mean something got lost or USCIS hasn’t reviewed that item yet.

Collect Every Requested Document

Gather all documents listed in your RFE. If you cannot do so, write a detailed explanation for any missing items. Everything on your list is deemed necessary for USCIS to make its decision. You can have an immigration lawyer review your RFE response to ensure nothing is missing.

Mail Your Documents Early

It’s extremely important that you mail your documents before the deadline stated in your RFE. It doesn’t matter when you put your packet into the mail. It must be delivered to USCIS before the deadline. You may want to consider priority mail express for expedited service.

Is Getting a Request for Evidence Bad?

It’s normal to feel stressed after getting a request for evidence. However, getting an RFE is not necessarily a bad sign. An RFE simply means that your petition is missing information or USCIS needs further information before making a decision.

Think of it as an extra chance to strengthen your case. Provide as much requested information as possible. If you are asked for multiple documents, send everything together in one packet. Be sure to submit your documents well before the deadline.

How Important Is a Request for Evidence?

If you are applying for permanent resident status or citizenship, a request for evidence is very important. Ignoring an RFE will be detrimental to your case. If you cannot prove the legitimacy of your marriage, your petition can be denied. 

What Are the Chances of Approval After an RFE?

Your chances of getting your petition approved are not affected by receiving a request for evidence. An RFE does not mean that your case is more likely to be rejected. The USCIS officer reviewing your petition determined that your case needs more information or clarification to resolve inconsistencies.

If you ignore an RFE or miss the submission deadline, your case will be reviewed without the requested documents that would support your petition. If that happens, you will have an increased likelihood of rejection.

What Does an RFE Rejection Mean?

If you submitted your additional documents as requested and received a rejection, that means your petition has been denied. You will lose all of your progress and have to start the process again with a new petition. 

If you petitioned for a work visa, you will not be able to legally work in the U.S. until you apply again and receive approval. Seeking a marriage green card is a lengthy and costly process. Having to start over could set you back for years. 

Can a Request for Evidence Be Prevented?

If you submit a complete petition for approval, you may avoid getting a request for evidence. Applying for permanent residency or citizenship is a complex process and petitioners commonly receive an RFE. You may expect to get an RFE if:

  • Your application is missing information
  • The sponsoring spouse is not financially stable
  • Your application lacks proof of legal entry
  • Your petition contains inconsistent information

You can also team up with legal professionals or immigration experts to ensure the process goes smoothly. You can enlist the services of an attorney or an immigration filing specialist to review your petition before you submit it to USCIS.

Receiving a request for evidence can be worrying but try not to panic. Getting an RFE is preferable to a petition rejection. The issues in your petition can be resolved if you submit a completed document packet promptly. 

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