If USCIS needs more information for a case they will issue what is called a “Request for Evidence” or an RFE as they are commonly called.
While these requests are issued on a routine basis and are just USCIS’s way of collecting more information, they can add stress to your process. Let’s look at the most common RFEs that USCIS issues and how to avoid receiving one.
If you have received an RFE look at our Article “Request for Evidence (RFE)? What To Do”.
Sending the incorrect birth certificate is one of the most common mistakes applicants make. USCIS will not accept just any birth certificate. They require a long-form certificate that contains information about at least one parent. In addition, USCIS only accepts certain versions of birth certificates from each country. To find which version is accepted from each country you can visit the Department of State Reciprocity Schedule.
It is required to submit all supporting tax documentation (W-2s, 1099s, Form 2555, and all supporting tax schedules) submitted to the Internal Revenue Service for the most recent tax year. Forgetting to add one of these documents will result in an RFE.
One common mistake is only adding W-2s from a current job and not all other jobs held in the tax year. When submitting this information double check that all documents have been added.
Most Recent Federal Tax Return
In order to act as a sponsor you must have filed a tax return for the most recent tax year. If the sponsor submits proof of a tax extension they are likely to later get an RFE requesting proof that the Federal Tax Return has since been filed.
Another time RFEs are commonly issued for this reason is on/near the tax deadline of April 15th. If you are submitting near this date and don’t submit the Federal Tax Return from the previous tax year there is a risk of an RFE for the return. We recommend you submit both if you are filing during this time.
Income Close to the Required Level/Lack of Proof
The Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, is filed to show that the intending immigrant will be supported financially in the U.S. This is done by showing that the petitioner or a joint sponsor makes an income of 125% of the poverty line for their household size.
USCIS always highly scrutinizes proof of income, but especially if the income is close to the required income. In these cases a detailed letter from the employer and six months of pay stubs showing consistent income can help, but in some circumstances a joint sponsor may also be necessary.
Lack of Income History
On Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, the sponsor reports their adjusted gross income from their past three years of federal tax returns. Even if a sponsor’s current income meets the level required by USCIS a lack of strong income history may cause USCIS to doubt the sponsor’s ability to financially provide. In these cases it is common for them to request a joint sponsor and the joint sponsor would need to gather the appropriate supporting documents to sponsor the applicant. This is common when a petitioner is self employed or again is barely meeting the applicants
If a sponsor doesn’t have a strong financial history or is self employed adding a joint sponsor before submitting forms to USCIS can help avoid an RFE.
Any documents submitted to USCIS, both required documents and documents submitted to support the application, must be translated into English. The translation should include a certificate from the translator stating that the translation is complete and accurate. It should also include the translator’s contact information and signature. Neither the petitioner or beneficiary can complete their own translations.
Missing Required Documents
Forgetting to add a required document will result in an RFE. Each case is unique with what documents USCIS requires so make sure to carefully check what documents they need. Commonly missed documents could include divorce decrees or death certificates from all previous marriages, proof of U.S. citizen along with a U.S. birth certificate, or court documents. SimpleCitizen guides you on exactly what documents your case needs for any type of application. Click here to start your application.