A Request for Evidence is exactly what it sounds like: a request from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for more documentation in your marriage green card application.
It is understandable if you are nervous or worried after receiving a Request for Evidence, but just because USCIS has asked for more documentation that does not mean there is a problem with your application.
Understanding An RFE
All it means is that the USCIS office who is reviewing your case feels that he or she needs more information before they can make their decision. In many ways it can be helpful to you, although it is certainly frustrating. If you have received a Request for Evidence, you have a chance to review your case yourself and make certain that you have presented the best, most compelling evidence that your marriage is real.
It is vital that you respond to the Request for Evidence by the deadline given to you with everything that the officer has asked you to send. If you do not provide the evidence they have asked for, or if you miss the deadline, they will make their decision based on the documentation you have already given them.
Since they did not feel they had enough information to make their decision, it probably will not go well for you if you force them to make their decision based on that information. More than likely your application for a green card will be denied in that case.
How To Avoid A Request For Evidence
Without question, the best solution to a Request for Evidence is to avoid it altogether. While an RFE is does not mean your application will definitely be denied, it does still add at least several days on to the process and it can be very frustrating. A thoroughly prepared application will help to avoid receiving and RFE.
Here are the specific reasons that most often trigger a Request for Evidence:
Missing Initial Evidence
Basically, if you did not include one or more of the required documents in the initial packet you will get an RFE. While this is annoying, it is actually a good thing. Rather than simply denying your application, they are giving you another chance to submit the information.
The Sponsoring Spouse Does Not Earn Enough
The spouse who is already a U.S. citizen has to be able to demonstrate that they are already capable of financially supporting the family. Usually that means that they must prove that they earn at least 125% of the federal poverty line.
If they cannot prove that they have a sufficient income, that will trigger an RFE. If they do not earn enough on their own, they will need to find a co-sponsor who will agree to help provide financial support to the family.
Missing Proof Of Legal Entry
If you are seeking a green card and you are already residing in the United States, you must be able to prove that you entered the country legally. Only persons who enter the country legally are eligible for a green card.
A copy of your stamped passport or a copy of your I-94 travel history form is all you need to prove that you entered the country legally. If you entered the country in the last six years, you likely only have a digital copy of your I-94. If you entered the country earlier than that, you would only have received a paper copy.
Missing Document Translations
If any of the documents that you submitted were not in English, you are required to submit a translated copy that was translated by someone other than you or your spouse. The translator is required to certify in writing that they have accurately translated the document.
If you are missing the translated copy or the translator did not provide certification, you will get an RFE.
What To Do If You Get An RFE
Read the entire RFE very carefully. You will only get the RFE once, and you only have one chance to respond, so be sure to get it right. Then review your original application package. It is distinctly possible that you have, in fact, submitted all the information the officer needs and they have made a mistake. If that is the case, make a photocopy of the original documents to include in your RFE packet. Make a note on them that they came from your original application.
Your response packet should include the original RFE notice as the first page (do not photocopy this, it must be the original). Any and all documents requested in the RFE should be included, along with any necessary explanations. For instance, if you are unable to provide your birth certificate, you must explain why and include an affidavit from a family member confirming the date and location of your birth.
Photocopy the entire packet before you mail the original, and be sure to get a tracking number for the mailed packet so you will have proof of delivery.
Speak With An Experienced Immigration Attorney
If you have any other questions or would like help with an RFE, contact the immigration attorneys at Pride Immigration.
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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