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Request for Evidence (RFE) Responses
To most petitioners, an RFE means a step toward the denial of their application. We take a different view. While not a welcome response to an initial submission, it is nonetheless an opportunity. Why? An RFE is just that: It is a Request for Evidence. Usually, the USCIS wants more information or decides that the petition is completely missing some required information. The RFE is an opportunity to explain your petition in more detail to ensure that the adjudicator understands correctly what they are reading.
There are certainly times when you look at your documentation and wonder how they could have asked about something that was right in your plan already. While this can be annoying, we have found that the best--and most successful--approach is to simply answer the RFE point-by-point. Using this approach, we have never had a second RFE issued once the first one was answered.
We have answered many RFEs. While there are no typical RFEs, by far the majority have been for L1A and EB5 petitions. Most often, we are approached by attorneys that have made the initial submission and would like us to answer the RFE.
When we answer an RFE for one of our own clients, it is obviously somewhat easier since we are familiar with the business plan and economic study, if there was one. Rarely have we had to completely rewrite an EB5 plan but we usually start over with the plans for the L1A RFEs (L1A RFE sample). The EB5 RFEs have been requests for clarification of the basis for financials or job calculations with some textual questions.
L1 plans, on the other hand, are most often missing required documentation of some sort. The list of required documentation for the L1 petition is not particularly difficult; sometimes things just get overlooked. While the number of RFEs issued shown in the paragraph below may seem daunting, they do not represent the number of petitions that were ultimately approved.
In FY 2015, the California Service Center’s L-1A RFE rates rose to 55 percent, its highest level in 20 years. At the Vermont Service Center, the rate of L-1A RFE rates dropped from a high of 44.6 percent in FY 2014, to 29 percent in FY 2015. The L-1B RFE rates dropped in FY 2015 at both service centers, to 44 percent at the California Service Center and 33 percent at the Vermont Service Center.
It is also the case that not all of the issues raised in an RFE relate to the business plan and/or economic study. Ours is but one part of the attorney's submission.
Our RFE Response Approach
Whatever the case, we answer each RFE point by point. If one of the questions relate to something not in the business plan, we indicate where the answer to that question can be found. This allows for a cohesive response.
Our RFE responses are thorough and we assume responsibility for gathering and correcting any information in the business plan and/or the economic study.
Turnaround time is two to three weeks depending on how long it takes us to get all of the information required to answer the RFE.
Sample L1A Request for Evidence (RFE)
Sample EB5 Request for Evidence (RFE)
Includable Expenses for Job Creation (Download EB5 Interactive Series - Expenses)
VIBE - Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (Download VIBE)
Matter of Ho
Matter of Hsiung
Matter of Izummi
Matter of Soffici
USCIS 1-485, I-765 RFE Information (Download USCIS I-485, I-765 RFE Information)
Policy Memorandum: Application RFE Response Time (Download Policy Memorandum: Application RFE Response Time)
Policy Memorandum: Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny (Download Policy Memorandum: Requests for Evidence)
Learn More About It
Job Creation Includable Expenses
Eligible Hard Construction Expenditures, Soft Costs, and Transfers Hard Cost Construction Expenditures
• USCIS economists will typically ask for itemized information to ensure that only eligible costs are input into an accepted economic model or other methodology.
• Simply stated, total aggregate hard costs will likely be insufficient to demonstrate eligibility. Rather, costs should be broken down into specific expenditure categories (such as masonry work, plumbing, flooring, hardscaping, softscaping, etc.), so that USCIS economists can assess whether these costs are reasonable inputs.
• Certain types of evidence may strengthen the credibility of a filing. For example: If the assumptions are accompanied by a third-party market feasibility report, or if a developer shows a successful track record in completing similar projects. The important thing to remember is that the burden is on the petitioner to provide sufficient evidence.