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Understanding the Request for Evidence (RFE) Process

Embarking on the journey of immigration can be both exciting and challenging. As you navigate through the intricate web of paperwork and regulations, one crucial aspect to be aware of is the Request for Evidence (RFE). This blog post aims to shed light on what an RFE is, the types of information that may be requested, the timeline for response, strategies for an effective response, and the potential consequences of not responding. Additionally, we'll explore the role of legal assistance in the face of an RFE.

Understanding a Request for Evidence (RFE)

A Request for Evidence is a formal inquiry issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to an applicant seeking additional documentation or clarification on specific aspects of their immigration application. It is not uncommon for USCIS to issue an RFE during the processing of various immigration petitions, including but not limited to family-based petitions, employment-based petitions, and adjustment of status applications.

The purpose of an RFE is to bridge any gaps in information or documentation that might exist in the initial application. Rather than outright denying an application due to insufficient evidence, USCIS provides applicants with an opportunity to address the concerns raised by the adjudicating officer.

Information Requested in an RFE

The information requested in an RFE can vary based on the type of immigration application. Common requests include additional supporting documents, clarifications on specific aspects of the application, and evidence to substantiate claims made in the original filing. For example, in an employment-based immigration case, an RFE may seek detailed information about the employer, the offered position, or the beneficiary's qualifications.

It is crucial to carefully read and understand the RFE, as failure to provide the requested information adequately may lead to a denial of the application. The specific documents or information requested will be outlined in the RFE notice, and applicants should address each point meticulously.

Time to Respond to a Request for Evidence

Upon receiving an RFE, the clock starts ticking for the applicant to submit a comprehensive and timely response. Generally, USCIS provides a deadline for responding to the RFE, typically ranging from 30 to 90 days. It is imperative for applicants to adhere to this timeline, as failing to respond within the specified period may result in the denial of the application.

If an applicant anticipates difficulty in meeting the deadline, it is advisable to proactively communicate with USCIS to request an extension. However, such requests should be well-justified and accompanied by a clear explanation of the need for additional time.

Responding to a Request for Evidence

Responding to an RFE requires a systematic and thorough approach. Here are some key steps to consider:

Carefully Review the RFE: Begin by thoroughly reading the RFE notice to understand the specific information or documents requested. Ensure that you comprehend each point to formulate a comprehensive response.

Gather the Necessary Documents: Collect all the required documents and information as outlined in the RFE. This may involve obtaining new supporting materials or providing additional context to existing documents.

Organize Your Response: Structure your response in a clear and organized manner, directly addressing each point raised in the RFE. Consider creating a cover letter summarizing the enclosed documents and explaining how they fulfill the requirements.

Seek Professional Guidance if Needed: If the RFE is complex or if you are unsure about how to address certain issues, consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney. Legal professionals can provide valuable insights and ensure that your response is well-crafted and compliant with immigration laws.

Submit the Response Before the Deadline: Aim to submit your response well in advance of the deadline. This allows for any unforeseen delays and ensures that USCIS receives your materials on time.

Failure to Respond to an RFE

If an applicant fails to respond to an RFE within the specified timeframe, USCIS may issue a denial based on insufficient evidence. In such cases, the applicant has the option to file a Motion to Reopen or a Motion to Reconsider. However, these motions are generally challenging to succeed, as they require strong justification for the failure to respond and compelling evidence to support the original application.

Preventing the need for an appeal involves careful attention to the RFE and a timely, well-prepared response. Applicants should view the RFE as a crucial opportunity to strengthen their case and provide USCIS with the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Need of Lawyer for a Request for Evidence

Lawyer meeting with a client at his office

While it is not mandatory to have legal representation when responding to an RFE, seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney can significantly enhance your chances of success. Here are some reasons to consider hiring an immigration lawyer:

Legal Expertise: Immigration law is intricate, and an attorney can navigate its complexities to ensure that your response aligns with legal requirements.

Strategy Development: Attorneys can formulate a strategic response that not only addresses the immediate concerns raised in the RFE but also strengthens your overall case.

Preventing Costly Mistakes: Legal professionals are well-versed in the nuances of immigration law and can help you avoid common pitfalls that may jeopardize your application.

Advocacy in Complex Cases: If your case involves complicated legal issues or if you have received multiple RFEs, an attorney can provide the necessary advocacy to present a strong and compelling case.

Peace of Mind: Having a legal expert by your side can alleviate stress and uncertainty, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your immigration journey.


Navigating the Request for Evidence process is a critical phase in the immigration application journey. By understanding what an RFE entails, knowing how to respond effectively, and considering the option of legal assistance, applicants can enhance their chances of a successful outcome. Remember, the RFE is not a roadblock but an opportunity to strengthen your case and provide USCIS with the information needed to make an informed decision on your immigration application.

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