Employment-Based RFEs

How U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers decide to issue Requests for Evidence (RFE) for employment-based petitions is to a certain degree shrouded in mystery. After all, individual USCIS officers, while operating under protocol and guidelines, still exercise individual decision-making and discretion when adjudicating individual visa applications.

However, USCIS’ Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises, or VIBE, may shed light on this process. We explore VIBE’s function in the context of employment-based visas below.

What is VIBE?

VIBE is an internet-based tool USCIS employs to streamline the adjudication of certain employment-based immigration petitions, including EB-1B, EB-1C, EB-2 (excluding National Interest Waivers), EB-3, H-1B, and L-1 visa applications.

VIBE uses commercially available data from an independent information provider (IIP) to validate basic information about companies or organizations petitioning to employ alien workers. Currently, VIBE relies on Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) as an IIP.

How does VIBE work?

After receiving certain employment-based petitions, in order to ascertain petitioners’ eligibility for the categories under which they’ve applied, USCIS electronically gathers information collected by D&B. USCIS singles out such information to include:

  • Business activities, such as type of business (identified by North American Industry Classification System codes), trade payment information, and status (i.e. active or inactive)
  • Financial standing, including sales volume and credit standing
  • Number of employees, both onsite domestically and abroad
  • Relationships with other entities, including foreign affiliates
  • Nature of the enterprise (i.e. whether it is a single entity, branch, subsidiary, or headquarters)
  • Ownership and legal structure (i.e. whether the business is a partnership, corporation, etc.)
  • Roster of company executives
  • Date of establishment as a business entity
  • Current physical address

Alongside the evidence submitted in petitions, USCIS officers use the above information to verify qualifications asserted in petitioners’ applications. For example, in an EB-1C petition, a USCIS officer may use VIBE to confirm that the applicant has the requisite qualifying relationship, or evaluate the petitioner’s financial viability for applications requiring evidence of a petitioner’s ability to pay.

How does VIBE relate to RFEs?

In the event a USCIS officer discovers inconsistencies or encounters issues while reviewing the information submitted by the petitioner, the officer will generally issue an RFE rather than outright deny the application. Because VIBE consolidates information with which to crosscheck a petitioner’s application materials, it often serves as the source of skepticism or loose ends a USCIS officer identifies and requests an RFE to resolve.

Our VIBE Suggestions

Given the relationship between RFEs and VIBE, we recommend the following:

  1. If a company is already registered with D&B, it should procure a copy of its company report, and then carefully review and correct any issues it identifies through iUpdate. Note that an attorney can only ascertain whether a company is listed in the D&B database; attorneys cannot view or amend a company’s information available therein.

  2. Companies should strive to ensure that the information submitted with petitions they file on behalf of employees is consistent with D&B information.

  3. Companies are not required to register with D&B; however, if a company is not listed in the database, it will still need to provide documentation to USCIS evidencing the company's existence and verifying information asserted in its petition. In other words, just because a company isn’t registered with D&B, it doesn’t get a free pass from USCIS scrutiny and potential RFEs in verifying information provided in petitions.

  4. Companies with approved L-1 blanket petitions should consider using the blanket petition process to transfer their employees to L-1 status. Eligible employees can apply for an L-1 visa stamp directly at a U.S. embassy or consulate, without the need to have USCIS first review a petition. (Companies that do not have approved L-1 blanket petitions might benefit from looking into whether they and their transferees could qualify.)

  5. As an alternative to L, H, or similar visa petitions, qualifying companies and their employees should consider applying for E visas directly with a U.S. embassy or consulate to avoid preliminary USCIS review and approval.

For more information on the EB-1C visa, refer to the following links:

Our experienced immigration attorneys are here to assist you in your EB-1 application. For more detailed information on the EB-1 category, including minimum requirements and USCIS policies, refer to the following links:

Updated 04/10/2017