It is understandable to feel a creeping sense of dread when you go to check your H-1B status on USCIS website and see a Request for Evidence (RFE) has been issued. The feeling is only compounded when it’s been a few days since the RFE was issued and you still have not received it. This unfortunate scenario is all too common nowadays due to USCIS reliance on an archaic and sometimes frustrating mailing system. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure you’re able to request a new timely RFE so you are able to respond before the deadline.
If filing in regular processing, the first difficultly one encounters is they must allow a set number of days for delivery of the RFE before you can even raise an e-request regarding the issue. This can be frustrating for someone who is either approaching the expiration of their current H-1B validity period or planning to travel. The issue is compounded by the fact that submitting an e-request gives USCIS additional time to respond regarding the inquiry. This could lead to getting a copy of the RFE even closer to the deadline to respond. While such an issue has been eased by USCIS adding an additional 60 days to RFE response to due COVID that exception is slated to expire without renewal on July 25, 2022. This will be right around when some quota cases begin seeing RFEs.
The easiest way to ensure you receive a copy of your RFE is to upgrade your case to premium processing or file in premium processing to begin with. Some service centers fax copies of RFEs as a courtesy. In the event the case is in premium and a copy of the RFE is no received some premium units are willing to send a new copy via fax. Those that are not will at a minimum respond to a premium inquiry confirming that a second copy of the RFE has been sent to the Petitioner and their legal representative. There have even been circumstances in which a premium officer has confirmed that the RFE issued was done so in error, and after correcting the issue confirms the case will be issued an approval.
The downside to using premium is the additional $2500 fee. However, the premium processing fee can be paid by either the Beneficiary or the Petitioning employer. This means which ever party has more immediate need of the case being approved can be the entity handling the payment. Those who do not wish to obtain the benefit of premium processing will have to rely on e-requests and calls to USCIS. While it is possible to obtain the same result one should be ready for a much longer timeline.
Regardless of how one wishes to proceed with obtaining a new copy of their RFE it is highly recommended that an experienced immigration attorney is incorporated in drafting the response. As an RFE means the case is one step close to a denial, and after the Petitioner has already allocated t financial resources to file the case, it is important to utilize an attorney to maximize the probability of an approval.
By: Justin Rivera
Justin Rivera is an attorney at Reddy & Neumann, P.C. who focuses on employment-based non-immigrant visas. With a strong passion for immigration law, Justin strives to provide his clients with unparalleled quality service and professionalism. He practices primarily in the H-1B visa process.