A USCIS officer has three options when adjudicating a case: approve, issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or issue a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID).
A USCIS Officer will issue an RFE if s/he has questions about whether a case is approvable, or if s/he requires additional clarification and information in order to issue a decision. While EIG prepares thorough petitions on the frontend to avoid such requests, RFEs are routinely issued by USCIS. As recently reported, there has been a 45% increase in issuance of H-1B RFEs nationwide this year.
Receipt of an RFE is not a cause for alarm as it provides you and your attorney with an opportunity to present additional arguments and information in support of your case.
So what should you do in the event of an RFE?
- Know what the RFE is asking. Your attorney will be able to walk you through the request, identifying issues raised by USCIS and a strategy for the response.
- Reply quickly and fully with all requested information. Your attorney will provide a list of information needed to respond to the RFE, and it is important that you gather the documents/information as quickly as possible. USCIS will set a deadline to respond to the RFE, and late filings are not accepted.
- Let your attorney submit the response. Do not submit additional documents directly to USCIS. USCIS will only review one response to the RFE. Allow your attorney to prepare a meticulous RFE response on your behalf.
What are common RFE requests?
- Requests for new Medical Exams (for green card applications). Medical exams expire one-year after the green card filing. With increased processing times, we are seeing several requests for new medicals.
- Requests for a more detailed job description.
- Requests for clarification on degree requirements for the position.
- Requests for additional explanation of why your degree is related to the offered role.
What if I cannot provide all the information that my attorney has asked for?
Review the requested information with your attorney. They will help you to explore additional information that may be used as a substitute. In addition, your attorney will be able to explain what information is absolutely needed for a comprehensive response, and what information may be considered helpful but not required.
Why is the RFE asking for information that was already provided?
Occasionally, we receive boilerplate RFE requests. These requests include templated language that often ask for information previously provided. In this scenario, your attorney will work with you to collect additional information to supplement the information previously provided. In the RFE response, your attorney will also draw attention to the fact that the requested information was previously provided.
My case was filed under premium processing, how does an RFE affect the timeline?
If your case was filed under premium processing, you will receive a decision within 15 calendar days of submitting the response.
Bottom Line: An RFE is not something to panic about. It is a chance for you to work with your attorney to explain to USCIS why your case should be approved.