Family based immigration has always been a core part of our immigration system, and within that framework, the United States has always accorded priority to marriage-based petitions filed by foreign nationals who are married to and can prove a bona fide relationship to either a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident.
A marriage green card allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or green card holder to live and work anywhere in the United States without any restrictions that temporary visa holders have to follow, such as limited periods of stay or authorized employment with only one company. One approved, a green card holder will have “permanent resident” status and may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after three years (if married to and living with a US Citizen for three years). Applying for a green card can be a rather arduous process – generally 9 to 36 months depending on whether you are married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder – and requires a long list of forms and documents to be submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon during the process for a petitioner to receive a request for more information or more documents. This is called an “RFE.”
What Is An RFE?
A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a request from USCIS for more documentation to prove an applicant is eligible for a marriage-based green card. It simply means that the USCIS officer reviewing the application needs more information or additional proof to fully evaluate and make a decision on the immigration benefit requested. An RFE gives the applicant an opportunity to address a deficiency or furnish something that may have not been included in the original submission. Failing to respond to an RFE will almost certainly guarantee that your application gets denied. Therefore, it is critical that you do not ignore an RFE or its deadline. Responding properly with ample documentation that satisfies an alleged issue is absolutely essential to ensure that the case goes through smoothly.
How to Avoid An RFE
Although receiving an RFE does not mean that your application will be denied, it may, however, result in additional delays. A carefully and thoroughly prepared application is a sure way to minimize the likelihood of receiving an RFE. With that in mind, here are some of the common reasons why your application might require more information:
- Missing Evidence – failing to provide the required evidence or documents that prove eligibility for a marriage-based green card.
- Insufficient Income – when applying for a marriage-based green card, the U.S. citizen or green card holder must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support the family in the United States. If the sponsoring spouse doesn’t earn enough, a co-sponsor – often a family member – may need to step in as a Joint Sponsor to support the couple.
- Missing Proof of Legal Entry – if the spouse seeking a green card is already within the United States, the individual must prove legal entry. A stamped passport and/or a copy of your I-94 travel history is an example of valid proof.
- Document Translations – any documents that are submitted in a language other than English require a certified translation made by someone other than you or your spouse.
- Unusual Circumstances – if your case includes any exceptional details, the applicant must want to consider providing an additional explanation or evidence to pre-empt questions from USCIS. For example, if you previously applied for a green card for an ex-spouse, but withdrew the green card application, a written explanation may be of some utility.
What Will The RFE Look Like?
The Request for Evidence (Form I-797E) will be sent in letter form usually printed on blue paper.
Introduction: affirms the facts about the original application and states that USCIS needs more evidence in order to make a decision.
Eligibility: substantiates eligibility requirements by quoting sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Code of Federal Regulations, and any other law that is relevant to your application.
Submissions: lists all the documents that you have already submitted in support of your application. It’s a good idea to cross-reference this section carefully to see if anything you did submit has not been listed.
What’s Missing: provides a list of any additional documents that USCIS needs to complete its decision. Missing passport pages, bank statements or documents that are not in English are some common examples. Alternate options for missing documentation may be presented here. USCIS may state that some of the documents you provided from your home country as evidence are not sufficient. Visit the State Department’s U.S. Visa: Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country table for a list of documents from your home country, and what documents they are equivalent to in the U.S.
Deadline: the response deadline to submit missing evidence will be either a date or a number of days. Be mindful – the deadline is not calculated from the day you receive the RFE, but rather the date the RFE was issued! The RFE must arrive at USCIS on or before this due date. Make sure to include copies of your original documents unless instructed otherwise since USCIS will not return documents provided in your RFE.
The Law Office Of Lee & Garasia Can Help You File For A Marriage Visa
Due to rising immigration fraud, the overwhelming number of applicants, and its scrupulous requirements, applying for a marriage-based green card is not as simple a process as it may sound. In fact, the application and supporting documentation required can be confusing and overwhelming. Add to that, the added complications of an RFE is one is received. An experienced family immigration attorney will help you step-by-step through the process, remove any language barriers, gather the appropriate documents and assist with the required submission instructions. By carefully reviewing your application and providing the right evidence to fulfill what might be missing, an immigration attorney can help ensure that your case is approved. Find us online at www.njimmigrationattorney.com or call 732.516.1717 or 888.404.5876.