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What is a Request for Evidence?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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A request for evidence (RFE) refers to a form sent by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asking for additional documentation from an applicant who applies for a visa. It could mean information previously submitted needs to be updated, documents are missing from the original application, or facts need to be clarified. A request for evidence typically sets a time limit for submitting documents the government seeks.

When a foreigner receives a request for evidence on an immigration application, it should be acted upon. If documentation is not returned to authorities before the deadline, the visa might be denied. A request for evidence is different from a notice of denial, which means the applicant is not eligible for the type of visa he or she is pursuing.

USCIS may send a request for evidence on an application for a new visa, or an application seeking to extend a person’s previously approved stay in the United States. It can also apply to visas permitting work in the U.S., known as an employment green card. Those who apply to become a permanent resident or citizen might also receive a request for evidence notice asking for additional documentation.

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Obtaining a U.S. visa is a typically a complex and lengthy process. Visas are available in a wide range of categories that depend on the applicant’s purpose for wanting to live in the country. They are available for foreigners who want work or get married, and for spouses and dependents of the applicant.

In each case, the USCIS asks for documents to determine if a visa should be granted. These might include financial records, birth and marriage documentation, proof of employment, and residential records. If the proof is not sufficient to meet guidelines, the agency might solicit additional paperwork the immigration officer needs. The request usually spells out where information is lacking.

An applicant is permitted to send photocopies of documents to show he or she is eligible for a visa. If the records are in a foreign language, they must be translated into English by a professional translator. The USCIS requires that a translator be certified in English, making online translations usually unacceptable.

Typical records that need translation include current and previous passports. Birth certificates issued in another country also require translation, along with marriage, divorce, and death certificates when a family visa is sought. The request for evidence might ask for translated birth certificates and passports of dependents showing the relationship between the dependents and the applicant.

An RFE that applies to a work visa may ask for records pertaining to the applicant’s prior employment history. A letter from a former employer outside the United States outlining job duties and dates of employment is one required document an immigration officer might need. Tax documents are also common records sought through a RFE, along with educational proof showing the applicant is qualified to work in a specific profession.

Foreigners usually want to enter the U.S. to work in order to improve their living conditions or for religious or political asylum. Once an application is submitted to USCIS, immigration officials prefer that the foreigner stays in the U.S. until the process is complete, which can take more than a year in some instances. If travel is critical during the review process, the applicant can apply for a travel document that allows short trips abroad.

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