Navigating RFEs: Expert Tips and Guidance

How to deal with H-1B RFE and OPT RFE

In this Guide

Have you ever faced the daunting challenge posed by a Request for Evidence (RFE) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)? Imagine the moment you find that ominous envelope in your mailbox, the weight of uncertainty instantly pressing down upon you. An RFE, a common request for evidence USCIS issues, can feel like a serious roadblock, one that requires swift and precise action to overcome.

Understanding the nuances of immigration documentation and the common pitfalls to avoid can make all the difference. An informed approach to your visa application is crucial in minimizing the chances of receiving an RFE.

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Part I

RFEs and Their Common Triggers

A Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS is a formal request for additional information or documentation needed to make a decision on an application. This formal request, such as for an OPT or H1B petition, does not necessarily mean the application will be denied; rather, it presents an opportunity to provide the missing evidence required for USCIS to reach a decision, a critical juncture for those facing an RFE.

🌟 Common Triggers for RFEs

🌟 Types of RFE response


Part 2

Detailed Triggers and Solutions for H-1B RFEs

1️⃣ Specialty Occupation Clarification

USCIS may issue an RFE for H1B petitions if it is not clear that the job qualifies as a specialty occupation, which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.
Provide detailed job descriptions, including specific duties, tools, and methodologies used, and explain how these require a degree in a specific specialty. Include industry standards or expert opinions if necessary.

2️⃣ Beneficiary Qualifications

If USCIS doubts the beneficiary's qualifications for the position, such as educational qualifications, specialized knowledge, or a mismatch of qualifications and job duties,
Submit detailed evidence of the beneficiary's educational credentials, including transcripts, evaluation of foreign degrees, and any relevant work experience that demonstrates qualifications for the specialty occupation.

3️⃣ Employer-Employee Relationship

USCIS may question whether a valid employer-employee relationship exists, especially in consulting or third-party worksite arrangements.
Provide contracts, letters from end clients, and a detailed description of how the employer maintains control over the beneficiary's work, including hiring, paying, supervising, and the ability to fire.

4️⃣ Prevailing Wage Level Issues

An RFE may be issued if the offered wage level is deemed insufficient for the position based on its duties and location.
To justify the wage level, provide additional evidence, such as industry standards, salary surveys, and detailed explanations of the job duties and requirements.

5️⃣ Worksite Locations and Itineraries for Third-Party Placements

USCIS may require more evidence about the beneficiary's proposed work assignments, especially in cases involving work at third-party sites.
Submit detailed itineraries of the beneficiary's work assignments, contracts with end clients, and evidence of the actual work to be performed at the third-party site.

6️⃣ Maintenance of Status

If there are concerns about the beneficiary's maintenance of current immigration status, an RFE may be issued.
Provide evidence of the beneficiary's status, including I-94 records, visa, and pay stubs. Including a birth certificate can further substantiate the beneficiary's personal information.

7️⃣ Availability of Work (In-House Projects)

For petitions that involve in-house projects, USCIS may issue an RFE to ensure that sufficient work is available.
Provide detailed project descriptions, contracts, and letters from clients or internal project managers that confirm the project's existence, duration, and the specialized duties the beneficiary will perform.


Part 3

Detailed Triggers and Solutions for OPT RFEs

1️⃣ Employment Relevance

RFE for a job is not clearly related to the student’s field of study.
Ensure job duties and descriptions clearly align with the student’s major; document the relevance thoroughly.

2️⃣ Employment Documentation

RFE for lack of proof of job offers or employment related to the field of study.
Provide job offer letters, contracts, and detailed descriptions of the work related to the field of study.

3️⃣ OPT Timing

For post-completion OPT, submit your application from 90 days before to 60 days after your program ends, and within 30 days after your DSO recommendation is added to SEVIS.
Maintain detailed records of employment dates; ensure authorization before starting; explain any gaps in employment.

4️⃣ F-1 Status Maintenance

RFE if the student fails to maintain F-1 status, such as under-enrollment or not being enrolled at all.
Keep full-time enrollment or required course load; document any exceptions or changes with DSO approval.

5️⃣ Previous Practical Training

RFE to verify total training duration does not exceed limits if the student had prior CPT or OPT.
Document and calculate total duration of practical training, including any previous CPT or OPT periods.

6️⃣ Employment Changes

RFE if significant changes in employment terms are not documented and reported.
Report changes in job duties, location, or employer to the DSO promptly; keep documentation of all updates.

❗️Key Considerations During OPT to Avoid RFEs for STEM OPT Extensions

  • Match CIP Code: Ensure the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code on Form I-20 matches the student’s diploma or transcript to prevent inconsistencies.
  • Find a E-Verified Employer: Verify that your current employer participates in the E-Verify program; if not, it's essential to secure a position with an E-Verified Employer to bolster your application for an OPT extension.
  • Report Changes: Notify your Designated School Official (DSO) or make updates in your SEVP portal regarding any major changes from your training plan.
  • Notify of Employment Changes: Report any termination of employment or change of employer to the DSO within five business days.
  • Complete Form I-983 (Training Plan):
    • Employer’s EIN: Ensure the Employer Identification Number (EIN) provided is correct.
Part 4

Timeline to Respond an RFE

4.1 Response Deadline

Typically, you'll find the deadline for responding to an RFE outlined in your notification letter. If you find that this crucial detail is absent, kindly consult the table below for the general RFE response time.

4.2 Suggestion Timeline

Step 1
Step 1 
Get the Receipt of RFE
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2
Understand the RFE

In first 1-2 weeks | You may need to get external help from school DSO or immigration attorney.

Step 2
Step 3
Step 3
Come Up with a Strategy

Determining the contents of your RFE cover letter and selecting the appropriate documents for your support files will be crucial steps in this process.

Step 3
Step 4
Step 4
Collect Supporting Docs

Reach out to relevant stakeholders to gather necessary documentation.

Step 4
Step 5
Step 5
Submit the formal RFE Response to USCIS

By the deadline | Ensure timely submission of your RFE response to prevent any denials or unwelcome holdups.

Please organize the RFE response as follows:

  1. The Original RFE document
  2. A well-crafted RFE cover letter
  3. Every piece of evidence and supporting document requested
Step 5
Part 5

Pro Tips for the RFE Response:

Part 6


Does receiving a request for additional evidence indicate a problem?

Receiving a Request for Evidence (RFE) simply means that USCIS needs more information to make a decision on your application. It is not an indication of a denial nor does it necessarily predict a negative outcome. An RFE can be issued if the provided evidence is insufficient or unclear and requires additional clarification. It's important to view an RFE as an opportunity to strengthen your case rather than a negative indicator. Understanding the rfe meaning uscis can help you respond more effectively.

What is the likelihood of getting approval after responding to an RFE?

In Fiscal Year 2023, the approval rate for cases that had received an RFE was 79.8%, a slight decrease from 85.5% in Fiscal Year 2022, as reported by USCIS. This statistic suggests that receiving an RFE can be a good sign when responded to correctly, indicating a chance to provide additional evidence that can help in securing approval.

Is it possible to request an extension for responding to an RFE?

No. Generally, USCIS sets strict deadlines for RFE responses and does not grant extensions. Applicants should make every effort to respond within the given timeframe. If you encounter exceptional circumstances that prevent you from responding on time, contact USCIS immediately to discuss your situation, but be prepared for the possibility that an extension may not be granted. Being mindful of the uscis rfe response time is critical for a successful petition.

Who reviews RFE cases?
  • USCIS Service Center Immigration Services Officers (ISOs)
  • Waiver Review Division
  • Regional Processing Facility director (for certain adjustments of status)
  • USCIS officer who made the initial decision (for appeals)
Is it possible to request premium processing for an OPT RFE?

Yes, To request premium processing, you must file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, along with the filing fee of $1965.

Is it possible to request premium processing for an H1B RFE?

Yes,  along with the filing fee of $2805.

Back to top
  • ❗️Be aware that there's a possibility your RFE response might not be accepted.
  • Although we do not wish for this to happen, if it does occur, it might mean that you will lose your legal status in the U.S.
🗣️Consider applying to a Day 1 CPT university as your backup plan

Note: All the information above are time sensitive. We recommend contacting professional lawyers before making any decisions. None of the information in this article is intended to provide legal advice.

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