The U.S. immigration law has been prioritizing marriage-based petitions filed by foreign nationals married to U.S. citizens or green card holders to help couples establish their life in the U.S.

To achieve this, the married couple must prove a bona fide relationship.

What is a Marriage-Based Green Card?

A marriage-based green card allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who are in bona fide marriage to live and work anywhere in the U.S. without restrictions.

Once the marriage green card is approved, a green card holder obtains “lawful permanent resident” status and is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The requirement to get U.S. citizenship is to wait for three years (if married to and living with a U.S. citizen).

Applying for a green card is not that straightforward process. Generally, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS takes 9 to 36 months (depending on whether you are married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder) to process and approve your green card application.

Also, the green card petition requires a long list of forms and documents to be submitted).

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a petitioner to receive a USCIS request for more information or more documents – Request for Evidence RFE.

Receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when you think the green card application is over can be frustrating and even alarming.

This article will briefly summarize a typical Request for Evidence and explain each part. Hopefully, you’ll never see an RFE, but by the end of this guide, you’ll know what to do!

So don’t panic; you can overcome RFE if you are equipped with the right information.

What Is An RFE?

A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a written request when USCIS officers need more documentation from an applicant to prove the eligibility for a marriage-based green card.

In other words, the USCIS officer reviewing the application needs more evidence to evaluate and decide on the requested immigration benefit fully.

An RFE allows the applicant to address a lack or provide something that may not have been included in the initial application.

If you fail to respond to an issued RFE, it will almost certainly guarantee that your application will be denied. Therefore, you mustn’t ignore an RFE or its deadline.

Responding appropriately with requested documents and additional evidence that satisfies an alleged issue is essential to ensure that the case goes through smoothly.

RFE Meaning

RFE means requesting more documentation, implying that the USCIS officer reviewing your application needs more information before deciding on your case.

RFE does not mean that your application will be automatically denied or that it is more likely to get denial than if you hadn’t gotten the RFE. Sometimes, an applicant simply forgets to include a birth certificate, and the first time around in such a case USCIS will take a lot less time to decide than when USCIS asked for evidence of a bona fide marriage

Once USCIS mails you an RFE, you have to respond by providing as much of the requested evidence as possible.

Also, you need to be aware of the maximum response time indicated on the notice and submit all requested evidence within it.

If your USCIS requests with RFE more than one document, you must send everything together in one response package.

If you miss the deadline, USCIS will decide based on the information and documents it already has. Unfortunately, this often means your application will be denied.

How The U.S. Citizenship and immigration services Officers Use the RFE?

How The U.S. Citizenship and immigration services Officers Use the RFE

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USCIS officers have guidance on reviewing a green card application and other immigration applications.

The USCIS Policy Manual outlines general eligibility requirements and contains charts and checklists that USCIS officers can use while reviewing applications.

RFE generally isn’t written from scratch; instead, USCIS officers use templates so they can customize it to request more information and original documents from applicants.

How to Avoid an RFE?

 Although receiving an RFE does not mean your application will be denied immediately, it poses a particular risk to your application and may result in additional delays in the adjudication process.

So, be careful and thoroughly prepare the application in the first place by following strict rules and form instructions.

Common Reasons For Receiving RFE

Some of the common reasons why you may receive RFE are:

  • Missing evidence – required initial evidence provided in the initial application was insufficient to establish eligibility for a marriage-based green card or there where no sufficient evidence to prove a claimed family relationship (missing passport pages, bank statements, school records, etc.)
  • Insufficient income – the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsoring the green card applicant failed to provide the required evidence of sufficient financial resources to support the family in the U.S.
  • Missing Proof of Legal Entry – the spouse seeking a green card is already within the U.S. but can’t provide a enough evidence of legaly entry: stamped passport and/or a copy of the I-94 travel history as valid proof.
  • Document Translations –  Documents submitted in a language other than English are not translated. The translation must be certified by someone other than you or your spouse.
  • Unusual Circumstances – The case includes exceptional details, but the applicant didn’t consider providing an additional explanation or evidence to pre-empt questions from USCIS.

The key parts of an RFE

To understand the Request for evidence and how to prepare RFE response, we will shortly describe each part of it.

1# The Facts

RFE usually contains an introductory paragraph stating the type of your original application, the date USCIS received it, the office currently processing it and, most importantly, that officers need more evidence.

2# The Law

RFE also quotes sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Code of Federal Regulations, and other law.

3# Evidence submitted

Typically, here you will find the list of all the documents you have already submitted to support your application.

Pay attention to this section, especially to see if anything you submitted has not been listed, and note anything missing from the list that might be helpful to the officer in deciding on your application.

4# Missing Evidence

The most important part is this section, where USCIS lists all the additional documents it needs to decide on your application.

Also, here you may find which eligibility requirement for benefit sought you didn’t meet by the submitted documents.

5# Deadline

Typically, at the end of your RFE, you will find information on how much time you have to submit your response.

Also, in this section, USCIS will notify you of the consequences of not responding to the RFE on time.

I received RFE, What’s Next?

Once you receive the RFE, you should read the entire document properlu carefully and plan your next steps accordingly to prepare a firm RFE response:

1# Review your original application package

Make sure that officials considered all the evidence submitted, identify examples you think they didn’t and if they missed anything, make a photocopy to include it in your response.

2# Provide other evidence listed in the RFE

If that’s not possible, try to explain any missing documents clearly. Ignoring documents mentioned in the RFE and hoping the officer will not notice is not a viable strategy.

3# Explain Why You Can’y Provide Certain Evidence

Eplian why the missing evidence specifically required by the applicable statute cannot be provided.

If there is any document requested that you can’t provide (such as birth certificate lost in fire, for example), you should sent the written explanation of the reasons and, if possible, provide alternative evidence, such as attaching sworn statement from a family member confirming the date and place of your or your spouse’s birth.

4# Meet the deadline

The response deadline will be stated as a date or some days. If it’s noted as several days, you should start counting due date from the date on the first page of the RFE and not on the date you received the RFE.

Also, you must ensure that USCIS receives your response by the deadline stated in the RFE.

Sometimes, the evidence provided in response to an RFE may raise eligibility questions that the officer did not identify during their initial case review, or new evidence may open up new lines of inquiry. In such a case, a you may receive RFE follow-up.

How and Immigration lawyer Can Help You?

The journey of moving to the U.S. can be challenging, but you and your spouse should enjoy it. To avoid any unnecessary headaches, it is good to consider hiring an immigration attorney who has experience handling immigration case.

Due to rising immigration fraud, the overwhelming number of applicants, and its requirements, applying for a marriage-based green card is not as simple.

The immigration application and supporting documentation required can be confusing and overwhelming. Add to that the complications of a received RFE.

If you decide to choose Herman Legal Group immigration law firm, we will ensure that you understand the system and make the whole process streamlined and simple.

Over the years, Richard Herman and his team of immigration lawyers successfully handled hundreds of immigrants petitions for many foreign couples.

Contact us and book your first consultation today with immigration law experts! Tell us the facts about your case, and we will make the winning strategy.

YOUR FUTURE IS A PRIORITY FOR HERMAN LEGAL GROUP

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