What is an RFE and How Does It Impact Your Green Card Application?

By  //  March 14, 2023

Family-based immigration interests many individuals. If you’re becoming a US citizen, you can do it in several ways, but the family-based path often works best.

However, you might encounter obstacles that you must bypass.

For instance, you might run into an RFE. We’ll talk about those in the following article, and we’ll explain how they can impact your green card application.

What is an RFE?

First, you must realize that the US gives priority to marriage-based petitions. That makes sense. If someone marries, and one of the individuals already has US citizenship, the other person should have a clear path that lets them get that status as well. The couple should live together happily in the US, and citizenship lets them do that.

Let’s say you marry a US citizen, and you are from another country. The US can grant you a marriage-based green card. Once you have that, you can work or live anywhere within the US. You do not have the restrictions that a temporary green card holder has.

In other words, you aren’t constantly reauthorizing the card’s validity with the appropriate governing body. If you marry a US citizen and get permanent resident status, you can also obtain US citizenship after three years.

Getting a green card can take anywhere from 9 to 36 months. It’s also a rather complex process. You must submit paperwork that seems endless sometimes.

If you’re handing over documentation and paperwork while getting your green card, you might get a reply saying you must hand over more documents. Immigration lawyers call this request an RFE.

What Does RFE Mean?

RFE stands for request for evidence. The USCIS, which handles US immigration cases, can demand that if they feel the need. This request states that they need more proof that the person who wants a marriage-based green card should get one.

When you want a marriage-based green card, you get assigned a USCIS officer. This person reviews your background and the person background who you’re marrying.

This officer might feel that they need to know more about your particular circumstances before they can make a decision. An RFE does not mean that the officer has turned you down, at least not yet. They want some more documentation that shows your origin country and other information they deem necessary.

You might get an RFE if you haven’t demonstrated that you’re marrying this person for the right reasons. For instance, you might marry because you love each other, but maybe you’re also attempting a sham marriage just for citizenship.

You also might come from a country that’s openly hostile toward the US. On those occasions, you can easily understand why the officer might see your request and feel hesitant.

What Happens Next?

Often, if an officer gives you an RFE, they stipulate what additional documentation they need. Sometimes, providing that isn’t an issue. Other times, you must produce considerably more documentation before you convince the officer.

If you don’t provide that documentation, you will not get that marriage-based green card. You should realize in these situations that the government, and this USCIS officer in particular, has all the power. You must placate this person before you get that card.

You Have a Deadline

The RFE request will also have a deadline. When you see that, you’ll know the exact date by which you must produce the requested documentation.

If you ignore that deadline, the officer will turn you down. That does not just mean you won’t get the marriage-based green card that you wanted. You must also start the process all over again.

When you consider that this process takes several months or even multiple years, you’ll understand why you must provide that documentation promptly. You don’t want a do-over that costs you months or years and will undoubtedly frustrate you and the person you’re marrying.

Why You Get an RFE

We’ve already mentioned some scenarios where you might get an RFE from the officer assigned to your case, but we’ll talk about some more right now. The officer might reject you because they have some income concerns. Maybe they feel that neither you nor your spouse does not have a sufficient income that can support you both.

They might think you don’t have sufficient proof that you entered the country legally. They may also see that you submitted some documents in another language. Maybe they’re from your country, and they’re legal proof there, but you must get an English translation so that the officer can read and understand them.

The officer might also give you an RFE request because they see some unusual circumstances regarding your case. That could include just about anything.

Maybe they see that you once tried the same thing with another person, but you withdrew the green card request. That’s probably a red flag, and the officer needs an explanation before moving forward.

You Can Hire a Lawyer

You should know that you can hire an immigration lawyer if you need one. The green card application process can confuse you, and maybe the person you’re marrying isn’t much help. If they don’t have any expertise in this area, they will want an expert’s opinion, particularly if you get an RFE, which might discourage you.

A good immigration lawyer has gone through this process before. They know about RFEs and can quickly help you get the evidence you need, whatever it is. They can assist you in getting the officer that documentation before the deadline.

This way, you won’t lose time or start the process over. Hiring a lawyer can get you in the best position possible so that this setback goes from a minor annoyance to a problem you’ve solved.

Getting an RFE isn’t so bad. Many times, you can get past it with some good advice. You must go through a bureaucracy for that green card you want, but you’ll feel great once you have it.