“I’m trying to immigrate my wife. Today, the government sent a letter asking for more evidence to prove our marriage is real. We do not have any more evidence. Does this mean our case is over?“
(Submitted by Jesus O., San Marcos, CA)
Absolutely not. A request for more evidence is not a denial notice. As long as you can keep fighting to keep your family together, you should keep fighting.
To begin, I’ll address some basic questions you might have.
What Is A Request For Evidence (RFE)?
Generally, a Request For Evidence is issued due to a problem or omission in the paperwork you filed with USCIS. In most cases, the government will give you 87 days to respond (from the date they mailed the RFE to you.)
The time allowed for your response could be shorter, so be sure to check your deadline. If you fail to reply by the due date, your immigration application could be denied.
When Does The Government Request Additional Evidence?
There are three common situations which arise, causing immigration authorities to seek more information from you.
- You may have failed to send important documents to support your application packet
- The evidence you submitted might not be insufficient to show you qualify for a green card
- There is a possible legal issue which needs to more closely reviewed by the USCIS officers
In your case, it appears the government just wants more evidence showing your marriage is real.
Actually, the government does immigrants a favor when it requests more evidence. If you read the RFE closely, it usually lays out what you need to prove.
When clients tell me they do not have any more evidence, they are almost always wrong.
How To Put Together Evidence To Respond To A Request For Evidence
Let me share some ideas how you can find more evidence.
You may not have more paper evidence, like rental receipts, tax papers, or bank accounts.
But I bet you have a lot of friends, relatives, and neighbors who know about your marriage.
They can testify on your behalf, usually in writing. Be careful. Their statements must be prepared according to strict rules.
If you go to family birthday parties, wedding receptions, holiday gatherings, you usually are familiar with a lot of people there. Pick a few. Most likely, the ones you and your wife talk to the most can vouch for your marriage. They might even have photos they took at some of the events.
Photos can help your case.
Do you ever go to sporting events or the movies with other couples? You might request these friends or relatives to help you and your wife out.
Are you involved with church? Or community organizations?
What are you and your wife’s hobbies? Do you play in any sports leagues? Does you wife take classes like cake decorating or scrap booking?
Now, let’s take a step back.
Are you really sure you have not overlooked all possible paperwork evidence?
Often, when I directly question clients, they realize there is more paper evidence they can locate and provide to the government. For instance, do you or your spouse have an insurance plan at work? Soon after your marriage, you may have changed the number of dependents for your work checks. This is written evidence.
Do you have children? If so, there is normally a lot of paper evidence pertaining to your kids. School records. Dentist records. Immunization records.
What about your cars? Do you have joint car insurance?
Have you purchased a new television, a new computer, or a new Iphone?
How about your cell phone invoices and bills?
Do you get letters from your parents or relatives?
Maybe the two of you post on Facebook, My Space, or Twitter?
Sometimes you need to speak with an outsider. He or she can sometimes figure out types of “evidence” you overlooked.
So if you’re trapped in this situation, and you feel stuck, don’t give up hope so easily.
If you’re unsure or scared about what to do, I suggest getting advice from a lawyer who specializes in immigrant family and relative visa petitions or other qualified professional.
Remember, it’s your marriage that you are trying to save.
A Request For Evidence (RFE) does not mean you’re going to lose.
And according to your question, it seems the government just wants more evidence showing your marriage is real.
I want to re-emphasize that point.
A request for evidence is not the same as a denial or a notice of intent to deny.
Do Not Confuse A Request For Evidence (RFE) With A Notice Of Intent To Deny (NOID).
If you receive a NOID, this means that after reviewing your application, a USCIS officer does not think your spouse qualifies for the immigration benefit she seeks.
Although a Notice Of Intent To Deny is not an official denial, it is an announcement that you will receive an official denial if you and your spouse cannot provide convincing evidence to show her green card application should be approved.
In essence, a NOID is a more urgent RFE.
As a practical matter, there are various reasons why the government may have filed a Request For Evidence in your case.
It could be your ages or your home countries. It could be that your marriage is recent or you have different educational levels. It could be you only met a few months ago and have not been together very long.
Still, if yours is a real marriage, don’t spend too much time worrying.
Doing is preferable.
It’s far more beneficial to spend your time and energy working on your case and finding evidence to prove your marriage.
If you’re going to handle responding on your own, be sure you understand what issues are crucial to winning a green card via marriage, and pay close attention to organizing your materials in a neat and orderly manner to assist the government’s adjudicating officer.
Don’t under-estimate the effort required to handle an RFE properly. The steps outlined above usually require several hours of planning, researching, assembling, and presenting your evidence.
The bottom line?
It’s worth doing everything possible.
Again, it’s your marriage that you are trying to save.
(Filed Under Q&As: Family-Based Visas And Immigrant Petitions)