The HMA Law FirM


Although there is a technical difference between RFIE and RFE, failure to respond to either will be fatal to your immigration plans.


When you receive an RFIE or RFE from USCIS, it may not be your fault. You may have complied with the form instructions, but it’s still very possible – indeed likely – to receive them.


USCIS lists documents on the form instructions for aspiring citizens to submit. When you do not submit these documents properly, or at all, then your troubles will be tied to initial evidence. Documents that were not originally listed in the instruction form may also be requested. When they request for this, then you’re dealing with additional evidence.

Hence, RFIE means a request for initial evidence while RFE refers to a request for additional evidence. Although RFIE and RFE have a technical difference, they’re otherwise the same.

The full list of documents that could be requested as initial evidence(RFIE) can be found on the form instructions. But USCIS is not limited to those documents: they can ask for anything. Hence, the more general RFE.

In the case where a required document is missing or not properly submitted, USCIS sends a notification mail requesting initial evidence. The applicant is expected to check the mail and follow the instructions to submit the evidence requested to USICS.

Differences Between RFE and RFIE

The only perspective that a difference exists between RFIE and RFE is on the technical level. An RFIE is generally easier to resolve than an RFE, unless the missing document is difficult to procure or USCIS has an objection to the one you submitted. An RFIE resets the timeline of any ancillary benefit to your application, while an RFE pauses it.

The notice for RFE/RFIE is usually sent within two to three weeks. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020, however, made such timeframes wildly unpredictable. When an RFE or RFIE is issued, the application process is put on hold until the applicant responds appropriately. After an aspiring citizen submits their RFE or RFIE response, it’ll take USCIS about two months to respond.


Resolving an RFE or RFIE is vital to your application. So file a timely response, and generally as early as possible. Failure to respond will lead USCIS to conclude that you have abandoned your application.

USCIS will then make a decision on your case, in the absence of the information requested for. That means a denial. If left without lawful status in the United States, USCIS has the power to commence removal (deportation) proceedings.

Respond To Your RFE

Do not ignore an RFE. Check your case status online frequently to ensure that an RFE has not been mailed out. It is generally no defense that you did not receive an RFIE or RFE. Even if you escape being placed in removal proceedings, you will be forced to refile the entire application, and pay a new filing fee.

Again, we stress: do not ignore an RFE.

Many aspiring Americans get so worried over the possibility of receiving RFE. Rightfully so, because, it can be quite an ordeal of concern and distress. Future citizens should know that until their interview is conducted, or until they have their case show ‘approved’, it is still possible to receive an RFE from USCIS. Be on guard!

If you do not get a response after submitting the requested documents, contact the service center via email.

There are several ways that an applicant can check his or her USCIS case status:

  • Checking with your phone via dialing 1 (800) 375-5283
  • Using the Electronic Immigration System
  • Accessing the e-Request portal.
  • With the online procedure, you can check your case status online. You do this by entering your 13-digit case receipt number in a box that appears. You should carefully enter the numbers correctly as they appear on the receipt notice.
  • If you submit an inquiry, get the USCIS officer’s name, badge number, and a reference number for the call. Write it down in your file and do not lose it.


After applying for adjustment of status, you can generally also apply for an Employment Authorization Document (often called a “work permit), and Advance Parole (often called a “travel document”). Applying for these will enable you to work in the U.S. while you wait to receive your green card.

Note that even if you can apply for advance parole, you should check with your lawyer before leaving the United States. Just because you can travel doesn’t mean you should.

When USCIS sends you an RFIE on I-485 or RFE on I-864, there will be a delay in receiving your EAD. This happens because the RFIE interrupts and resets the EAD clock. Receiving an RFE, in contrast, doesn’t automatically mean that the countdown of your application processing restarts. Rather, the whole process to be put on hold to resume when you respond with the requested documents.

Having to wait and anticipate USCIS’s final decision is a tough mental task in itself. Under normal circumstances, an interviewer informs applicants whether their green card is approved or not. However, USCIS may delay its final decision for several reasons.

RFE’s are a common reason for USCIS delaying in making a final decision on an applicant’s case. In this situation, the applicant is to respond to their RFE appropriately within 30 to 90 days. USCIS will make a final decision after reviewing your response( with documents requested)


Whether you receive an RFIE or an RFE, one effect remains the same: If you fail to comply, your application process will be put on hold, and could even be denied

While USCIS will sometimes notify you of the specific documents to provide, other times, their ambiguous statements could lead you down the wrong path.

Do not presume that the list of documents given in boilerplate RFE’s is the only way to respond. Lawyers with a knowledge of the law behind the RFE’s language can usually conceive of alternative ways of responding, possibly along with a memorandum of law explaining why

a) the RFE was legally inaccurate, or

b) why the submitted response is sufficient under the law.

Did you receive an RFIE or an RFE? You can’t entirely rely on your own knowledge. As harsh as it may seem, tightened immigration procedures makes this a glaring fact.

In this case, you don’t need just any help. You need professional help – The professional help we provide here, at the HMA Law Firm. Whether or not RFEs and RFIEs are deliberate actions to dissuade your designs for citizenship, our attorneys will fight for you, and hold the government’s feet to the fire.

Whether you have filed your application or not, it’s still not too late to contact us – but you need to move quickly! Reach out to us by jumping on a call, or filling our contact form today.