How to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE)

What is a Request for Evidence?

Request for Evidence, or RFE, is a letter in which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asks for more information. In other words, the officer in charge of the case needs more documentation before making a decision. An officer may issue an RFE for multiple types of applications, including green card´s I-140, I-130, I-485, visa applications, and citizenship petitions. 

How does an RFE look?

A Request for Evidence by USCIS is usually a pink letter. Indeed, the name “pink letter” is the colloquial way of calling this type of action. This letter has the official letterhead of the USCIS, the date, and the information about the petitioner/beneficiary and the case. Even though the color is typically pink, this type of request from USCIS may come in other colors, including yellow, blue, or white.

Scan of Request for Evidence (RFE) letter

Request for Evidence (RFE) scan

The structure of a Request for Evidence (RFE)

The structure of an RFE is simple and it follows the sections below:

Why – “Why We Are Writing You”

This is a concise paragraph describing the reason USCIS is reaching out. In my personal case, for example, the letter stated that USCIS was writing me because they needed more information on my I-485 submission. In this section, the government gave me no specifics about what they were looking for. However, that is exactly what the following section is about.

What – “What You Need To Do”

Following the Why comes the What. In this section of the RFE, USCIS specifically describes what documents they are looking for. For example, in my case, they clearly stated that they needed my Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record). This was written under a bullet point, so I expect that if they were looking for more than one document they would be listed in separate bullet points.

When – ” When you Need To Do It”

The pink letter will tell the petitioner when to submit the documents by. Keep in mind that this date is the date by which the USCIS must receive the response. Allow a few extra days to ensure your mail reaches the government offices. In fact, you should mail this important letter with the option of tracking it and keeping a receipt for your records. The USCIS only allows an RFE response if they receive it three days after the deadline, as a grace period. This is listed in the Policy Manual, chapter 6. Despite this grace period, you should avoid being too close to the deadline because if they do not receive the RFE on time your case will be considered abandoned.

Where – the address to return the documents

Even though this is not a separate section of the letter, the last portion of the RFE provides the address to which the petitioner must submit the response. It may contain two addresses, one for regular mail services (such as USPS), and another one for express mailing services such as FedEx or other couriers.

What does USCIS typically request in an RFE?

The Request for Evidence can ask for a variety of documents. Some RFEs are not negative at all, so you should avoid panicking if you receive one. Although I know that is easier said than done! I received mine and after some anxiety built up I opened it and it was just the request for medical records! In my case, this was good news. It eventually meant that the USCIS had waived my visa interview. Typically, they request you bring your I-693 (medical exam) to your interview appointment. In my case, the RFE was asking me to send it by mail instead.

But like we said earlier, there are many reasons one could get a Request for Evidence letter:

  • Incomplete documentation submitted to USCIS. For example, incomplete forms, or missing pages on a passport copy.
  • Missing translations for documents. Documentation in foreign languages must be submitted with a translation endorsed by someone that can attest to their ability to speak both English and the language in the document. Failure to submit this translation may result in an RFE. 
  • Additional evidence to support the case. Take as an example an EB-2 NIW application in which the applicant claims that their endeavor is to provide training for young professionals in the development of microchips. The applicant may have established that this field is on national importance but they may have provided little evidence of their achievements in the field or ability to teach. In that case, the officer may consider that the second prong of NIW (the applicant is well positioned to advance the endeavor) was not properly fulfilled. This officer may choose to submit an RFE to request additional evidence and give the petitioner a chance to explain.

Request for Evidence (RFE) vs Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

While the RFE can be either bad news or neutral and even good news, the Notice of Intent to Deny is typically bad news for the applicant. Generally, receiving  a NOID means that the officer thinks the case is not solid enough or there are too many missing pieces of evidence. The applicant has one chance to correct all the deficiencies listed by USCIS to salvage the case. A NOID may happen during an adjustment of status if the petitioner submits little or no documentation.

What to do when you receive the Request for Evidence

First, do not panic! The pink letter causes a lot of anxiety but, as we discussed above, there are many reasons why you could get one. Remember that not all pink letters are negative.

Second, read the letter carefully. In fact, read it a few times to make sure you understand what the request is. Whenever possible, share the letter with a friend, relative, or colleague to get a second opinion. This will help you make sure you fully comprehend the content of the RFE.

Third, note the deadline listed in the letter. You need to make sure you can produce the evidence USCIS request at least one week in advance. Give plenty of time to shipping to avoid any last-minute disaster!

Fourth, prepare your response.

How to draft a response to a Request for Evidence (RFE)

A real response to RFE example that you can use

Responses to RFEs can be straightforward. Here I provide a sample response letter that you can use as a reference. This is actually the letter I used to reply to a real RFE I received for my case.

Response to Request for Evidence (RFE)

First, have your name, and address at the very top, followed by the USCIS address information. You can find this address on the pink letter.

Then list the reason for the response (for example, RE: Oscar LastName I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status¨). Next, indicate your full name again, your USCIS number (also called A number), and your receipt number (in my case it started by MSC).

All this basic information will help the USCIS officer quickly understand the reason for your letter. When you are done with this, write the main message of the letter under “To Whom It May Concern”. In this section, you want to indicate to the officer what documents you are enclosing. The first one will be the original pink letter with the RFE you received. Submit the original and not a copy of it! Then list any documentation you are providing as evidence to fulfill the officer’s request.

Finally, write a thank you statement and provide an offer to contact you should they have further questions.

Last but not least, do not forget to print your name at the very bottom and sign your letter with ink.

Proofread, correct and keep a copy for your records

After you are done writing this letter, make sure to read it a few times to detect and correct any mistakes. Additionally, double or triple check you have all the documents that need to be attached. USCIS does not allow multiple responses to RFE. They will only consider the first response you submit, so you want to make sure it is complete.

A good practice is to copy your full response, including a cover letter and attachments. Keep this with the tracking number for the mail as part of your records. This is your evidence that you submitted everything on time.

Common mistakes when responding to RFE

  • Not enclosing the original pink letter. This is always written in the Request for Evidence Letter and should not be overlooked.
  • Forgetting one or more documents that USCIS asked for. USCIS does not accept more than one response to an RFE. If you forget something in your response, you may be putting your case at risk.
  • Mailing the response too close to the deadline. You cannot control what can happen to the shipment, so it is better to submit your response way in advance to avoid surprises or simply to react to incidents.
  • Not keeping a full copy of the response. It is always good practice to keep a copy of everything you send to USCIS. Remember that as a general rule USCIS will not return any documents to you.
  • Not requesting a tracking number for the response letter. If you have tracking information, you will have proof that USCIS received your response.



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16 thoughts on “How to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE)”

  1. Dear brother,
    I am Azfar from Pakistan, I want to process my eb2 NIW visa program, but unfortunately I haven’t enough money to pay any attorney fees however I can pay my U.S official fees so, could you please help me to submit petition?
    I would be thankful to you and pray for you to success in your respected field.
    Whatsapp number 0092 321 2598618

  2. Dear Friends,
    I am Kal and filing for my mother-in-law,I-485 Adjustment of status, and have received an RFE. I would appreciate any help you could offer or share sample to respond to RFE. RFE is around 1. the non-availability of birth certificate (which as per the USCIS website is infact not required but for some reason is in the RFE and 2. missing facts/evidence for the 864 affidavit of support.
    I would be thankful to you and pray for you to success in your respected field.

    1. Hi Kal,
      You have an example of response to RFE in this very article, under the subsection “A real response to RFE example that you can use”. Good luck!


  3. Hi Oscar,
    I received an RFE for my EB2 NIW application and I have some doubts, they ask me to fill out the ETA 750B form, however, I have investigated that the ETA Form 9089 is a more updated one, is it convenient to attach both? On the other hand, they ask me for more detail in my statement of the proposed endeavor. Regarding this, is it necessary to again attach evidence that I already attached in the initial application, in case it refers to any information?
    Thank you very much for the information you share!

    1. Hi Carolina! With respect to your first question, I would attach the form they ask for. Both can be used to meet that requirement but if they are asking for one specifically in the RFE jsut use that one. For the second question, it is hard for me to say without more details. I would read their request carefully and address it. If you think that you already provided that information you can refer to where it is in your package in your response; if they ask for something else do you best to provide it. Good luck

      1. Hi Oscar,
        I also received an RFE for my EB2 NIW application and I want your support to prepare my RFE on second and third Prong. Thank you very much for the information you share!
        Carolina and Oscar Please share your email address for me .

        Hammad Siddqui
        cell No:00923422339600

  4. Hello Oscar

    What is the timeframe to receive rfe by mail because I am waiting since almost 3 weeks
    I am not in the us but in Europe


    1. Hi there, it is variable so I cannot say for sure. Being outside the US adds a couple of weeks. So almost 3 weeks does not sound crazy at all. I would wait a bit longer

  5. Hola, espero estes bien.

    En tu curso hay un ejemplo de un RFE para la I 140? Estoy buscnado apoyo para esta parte de mi caso.

    Gracias por toda tu vaiolisa información.

    1. Si miras mi canal de Youtube acabo de dar un ejemplo, el curso se centra en cómo hacer la petición I-140, y por lo tanto, también puede ser muy útil para responder a un RFE. Saludos!

  6. Hi Oscar,

    I finally filed my I-140 and checked the status of my application here: after having received receipt notice and i got a request for evidence. I am wondering 2 things
    1. am i able to check details on request online
    2. why cant i see the approval, RFE in my USCIS account when i login in here:
    ps i opened this account when i filed for opt but when i log in i only see info related to my opt


  7. Hello Oscar,
    After sending the response package to USCIS, approximately how long does it take to receive an update on my case?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Maria, typically if you submit the e-notification form you should know within a few days, and a couple of weeks via traditional mail (or longer if you are abroad depending where)

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