A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a detailed, written request sent from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to a visa applicant.  In a Request for Evidence, the USCIS may ask the visa applicant to provide additional documents in order to support or establish their eligibility for a visa.

Responding properly to a request for evidence is crucial for the success of any visa applicant.  A failure to respond to the RFE, or responding with the wrong documents, can cause delays or even a rejection of the visa application.

What Types of Information May be Requested in an RFE?

RFE’s may require the visa applicant to submit new additional documents as needed by the USCIS.  Or, the applicant might be asked to submit additional support for documents that have already been submitted (for example, if more extensive medical records are needed).  Finally, the applicant may be asked to send any documents that may have been missing in the original application.

Such information and documents might include:

  • Records of the applicant’s current and prior stays in the U.S.
  • Documents related to prior work experience
  • Documents in support of an employer’s ability to pay
  • Academic documents such as transcripts or evaluations
  • Documents in support of claims of “outstanding research” or “exceptional ability”

How Long Does an Applicant Have to Respond to a Request for Evidence?

Each visa application or petition request can vary according to the facts of each individual case, and immigration laws are often subject to change.  When a visa applicant is sent a request for evidence, the USCIS may have assigned them a flexible time period in which they must submit their response. 

However, the maximum response time generally can’t be longer than 12 weeks.  If you’re confused about how response times for an RFE, you may wish to contact USCIS for clarification, or speak with an attorney for more advice on the matter.   

How Should I Respond to a Request for Evidence?

When responding to a request for evidence, you may encounter some difficulties, and you may have questions about which documents to submit.  Here are some general guidelines to follow when compiling your response to a request for evidence:

  • Read the RFE thoroughly: Be sure you understand exactly what you’re being asked for.  It’s especially important to take note of dates, since these can affect your submission deadlines.
  • Identify potential problem areas: In some instances, a request for information can be fulfilled by several different documents (for example, you may have to choose between which tax form to send).  Be sure you’re sending the best document to support the application- this may require additional research on your part.
  • Organize your documents:  You may be handling several different documents and forms in your response.  Be sure to compile these and keep them organized, so that they’re easy for the processors to work with.  You should organize them in the order that you are being asked for them, in order to avoid confusion.

Finally, be sure to get an early start once you receive an RFE.  You don’t want to be caught hurrying as a deadline approaches- this is how errors and omissions are made.  Also, you’ll want to be prepared in case you come across any hurdles in the process, such as a delay in obtaining document from work.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Request for Evidence?

Not all visa applications involve a request for evidence.  However, if you have received a request for evidence, you may wish to contact an immigration lawyer for advice.  You attorney can help you review the RFE so that you understand what is being asked of you.  Your attorney can also help you obtain and compile the documents that are being requested, and can represent you if you need to attend any immigration hearings.