10 Points to remember when answering a RFE (Request for Evidence) from USCIS (Immigration Services)
A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a common tool used by the USCIS (Immigration services) to ask for additional proof in order to make a decision on your case. RFEs are often in point form requesting factual information from either the beneficiary or petitioner. While many RFEs are simple, lately many RFE’s have become more complicated and tend to require legal assessment before they can be answered. Our law firm, having filed more than 1000 immigration cases, is quite familiar with responding to RFEs.
Based on our experience, we have compiled a 10 Point legal guide to assist you in answering your RFEs. Note that this guide does not cover every single RFE related issue. We highly recommend that you retain a lawyer to help you on your case.
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 or answer at the outset is crucial to the success of your case. On the other hand, putting irrelevant and unnecessary information in your application or petition can harm you. Professional help in preparing your case is always recommended. A good lawyer can make a big difference for the final outcome of your case.
Read the RFE carefully
Having dealt with so many RFEs, we have noticed that many people do not want to read the RFEs properly or they simply do not understand the lingo. If you do not understand all the questions or statements, please consult with a lawyer.
Do not panic when you receive the RFE
As mentioned earlier, RFEs are common tools in the USCIS toolbox. You should not panic. On the other hand, you shouldn‘t take it lightly. If you do not have the courage or knowledge to deal with them, seek help with a lawyer familiar with immigration law to assist you.
Do not miss the deadline when answering the RFE
Answer your RFEs on time. Indeed, many people believe that they can request additional time to answer their RFEs. Unfortunatly, USCIS has not been giving additional time to answer RFEs lately. Missing the deadline will most likely result in a denial. At this point, you may have to file an appeal or a motion to reopen the case. Therefore it bears repeating: Do not be late.
Do not file the RFE in parts
Many of our clients tend to think that they can answer part of the RFE and then wait for USCIS to ask for more. Unfortunately, the way USCIS (or Immigration Services) 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. Also make sure you have a table of contents. Write your RFE in a way that’s 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.
Use a lawyer to answer, if possible
Using a lawyer can make a big difference. Often times RFEs have important points of law which need to be addressed by someone with legal knowledge. For example, lately, the Neufeld Memo regarding H-1Bs involves many important points of law that only someone with legal knowledge will be able to adequatly tackle. You should remember that only an attorney can give legal advice. Do not be fooled by unscrupulous “consultants” not licensed to practice law. Is it worth losing your immigration case just to save some money? Do not forget that denial of your case can result in a permanent ban. Again, having a good lawyer on your side can make a big difference.
Remember to put the colored paper at the top of your answer
Most RFEs are sent in colored paper (usually blue). It is essential that this cover letter goes above all your answers including the 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, the answer will probably be lost and you may get a denial.
Be polite when answering
Last but not least, be polite when you write your RFE. I have seen 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.
The above are just a few points to remember when answering an RFE. Unfortunately, there are many other issues to consider in your answer. We always recommend having legal assistance while filing a case. Remember a well prepared case usually results in a positive outcome.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this article, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state.
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Important: The testimonials or endorsements on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Each case is different and success in one case does not warrant or guarantee success in other similar cases or situations.
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