Request for Evidence (RFE) – What Next?


Let’s talk about Requests for Evidence, also known as an RFE.

A request from immigration for more documents or for more information. USCIS will send a document if they need more information titled, Request for Evidence.

If you are starting out in your immigration journey or if you’re already in your immigration journey, you’ve probably heard of RFEs or Requests for Evidence. How do I avoid them? What do I do if I receive one?

First off, a Request for Evidence is not a denial from immigration. They are looking to obtain more documents and information from you so they can make a decision on your case. It’s always best to do everything possible to avoid a Request for Evidence. But if you receive one, don’t panic. Take a deep breath.

The first thing you should do is to read through it. Sometimes there’s a lot of information and you might be overwhelmed by receiving that Request for Evidence. We highly recommend you read through it a few times to make sure you’re understanding exactly what immigration needs. They sometimes will request one thing or they might request multiple documents in the Request for Evidence. So pay very close attention. Read it very closely and find out exactly what it is that they are asking for.

Also be sure to pay attention to the deadline. Requests for Evidence have a deadline. Immigration will say you have 30 days or 60 days. They’ll give you a certain amount of time to respond and they’ll put in a date on that Request for Evidence when the documents need to be received by immigration. Make sure you calendar that date.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re responding as quickly as possible. Also that you don’t mail it any later than a week before. That’s usually the best rule of thumb because it’s important to understand that date is when immigration has to receive the response. Not a postmark date.

Once you’re clear on what immigration is requesting and once you have that date calendared, the next thing you’ll want to do is determine whether or not the Request for Evidence is a complex or simple request.

What I mean by that is immigration will sometimes send a simple RFE request. By that, I mean they’re needing one thing or something minor like passport photos. Maybe you didn’t submit them, you forgot, or you didn’t submit enough. That’s an example of a simple Request for Evidence.

There can also be a complex Request for Evidence. That’s typically the one that causes a lot of anxiety and that people are worried about receiving. A complex Request for Evidence is basically anytime immigration is asking you to prove something.

An example of a complex Request for Evidence would be immigration asking you to prove your relationship. Asking you for more bona fide relationship evidence. More evidence that your relationship is based on love and not to receive an immigration benefit.

Whenever immigration is asking you to prove something that means immigration is using discretion. That means that they are weighing positive and negative factors in your case to arrive at a decision. That somebody is going to review all of that evidence and they are going to make a decision about whether or not they believe you have a real relationship.

With a complex request, you would definitely want to make sure that you get legal advice or counsel from an immigration attorney to make sure you’re responding properly. Because if you submit documents to immigration or you respond to that and you don’t make a strong argument, then you are at risk for immigration deciding to deny your case.

If you get a simple Request for Evidence, something like passport photos, you could easily respond to that on your own. If you’re not clear on what the Request for Evidence is asking, it’s also good to have an attorney help you to decide what it is exactly immigration needs. But if you do get a complex request, it is definitely our advice to have an immigration attorney help you to make sure that you have enough evidence to prove exactly what it is that immigration is looking for.

We know the immigration process is long. It’s stressful and you don’t want to lose all the progress you’ve made. If immigration sends you a complex request, be sure that you are very clear on what they’re asking and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. You don’t want to put your case at risk of being denied.

Another thing I want to mention about Requests for Evidence is that immigration is notorious for asking for things that you may have already provided in your application. One of the most common ones that we see is with fiancé visa applications, immigration will ask for more proof that you have met in person within the two years prior to filing the application. We see that a lot.

We’ve seen many individuals who’ve actually submitted evidence that they have met in person but immigration asks for it again. If you get something like that, it might seem a little confusing. A good tip is to highlight the evidence that you’ve submitted. Submit that again and then provide additional documentation to show immigration that you meet that requirement.