Key for Successful RFE Responses

By Jeannette Liu

Most immigration officers have about a 15-20 minute window where they can examine an individual’s case. During this time, if they are unable to satisfactorily see that the key elements of the NIW have been proven, then they will typically issue either: 1) an RFE (Request for Evidence) or 2) an Intent to Deny. Not only is the receipt of either an RFE or Intent to Deny a nuisance, but it also draws out the length of time pending for your case, which in most instances, can cause crucial set-backs to an individual’s immigration, employment, and family plans given your current status. The following is an example of one client facing a dent in his immigration plan when his NIW received an RFE, but whose case was saved when we utilized our essential RFE tactics to respond to the USCIS.

July 2007:

Dr. Smith contacted Z&A for free evaluation but retained another firm and filed his original NIW with this unaffiliated firm.

November 17, 2008:

Dr. Smith received RFE from original NIW Petition and contacted Attorney Jerry Zhang regarding his possible choices to address the RFE and retained us for a Fee Based Consulting Service;

December 9, 2008:

After the Consulting Service, Dr. Smith concluded that Z&A was the best choice to tackle the hard RFE and retained Z&A for RFE Response

December 9, 2008:

Dr. Smith’s RFE case was assigned to Attorney Jeannette Liu who immediately contacted Dr. Smith with detailed instructions on how to tactfully respond to his RFE

December 19, 2008:

Attorney Liu received all RFE materials requested from Dr. Smith

December 22, 2008:

Attorney Liu filed Dr. Smith’s RFE response with supporting documents

December 24, 2008:

USCIS receives Dr. Smith’s RFE response

January 6, 2009:

Dr. Smith’s RFE response was accepted and USCIS approved the NIW.

Dr. Smith initially contacted Z&A in July 2007 for a free consultation regarding his I-140 NIW petition. However, due to personal reasons, he decided to retain a local attorney to work with him to file his I-140 NIW petition. This local attorney made an initial NIW presentation that included too much irrelevant evidence, an overly long petition letter (34 pages in length), and failed to address the key legal elements of an NIW petition, thus resulting in an RFE. If you find yourself in a situation, like Dr. Smith, where you have received an RFE or Intent to Deny, DO NOT PANIC. These notices are in no way indicative of the final outcome of your case and can be easily addressed with the right strategy. In order to present a strong RFE, we at Z&A employ the following key guidelines when preparing our RFE responses:

  1. Show that at the time of filing the original petition, you qualified for the NIW;
  2. Show that your contributions to the US national interests are to a greater degree than your peers with the same or similar education and work experiences;
  3. Reaffirm the legal elements of the NIW against past case law;
  4. Reaffirm, with supporting evidence, that you have gained a widespread reputation in your field that proves you have influenced your field – this is typically done by submitting either citations or additional letters of recommendations; and
  5. Submit additional letters of recommendation from independent references.
  6. Double check your RFE supporting documents check list.

In the RFE response, it is important to show the immigration officer that at the time of filing your NIW, you had satisfied all the necessary requirements (Guideline Numbers 1-3). You can do this by reaffirming the national interests, your past accomplishments, and the legal elements of the NIW itself. This is fairly easy to accomplish with the original evidence that were submitted with your NIW. In addition to this, my clients will typically include additional publications, memberships, awards, and/or conferences with their RFE supporting documents. While it is true that the USCIS will not accept evidence after the fact, and while some attorneys may disagree with allowing this, I like to include them with my RFE responses to appeal to the human psyche of the immigration officer, showing that my clients have continued in their work, solidifying their intent to continue benefiting the national interests with work in their field.

Most RFEs will also require that the client prove the wide spread influence of their work on their field by showing that citations have been made to their publications or other such work (Guideline Number 4). Depending on your career history and particular field, you may or may not have citations.  If, you do have citations, I suggest that you submit them with the initial filing of your NIW. Your attorney can assess the strength of the number of citations as well as devise a novel writing method to present that number in a positive light. But by doing so, you are being proactive and creating an argument pocket for your attorney to address your RFE by showing that the citations have proven your influence on your field. If you have garnered additional citations since having submitted your original NIW, present them in your RFE response. It reaffirms your influence on your field as well as your intent to continue work to benefit the US. If, however, you have no citations or just a small amount, it may be challenging to overcome, but you can enhance your case and your RFE response with other evidence as was the case with Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith was one such client who actually had very little citations. However, he was able to present a strong RFE because he was diligent in not only having submitted independent letters of recommendations with his original NIW, but to have gathered additional ones (Guideline Number 5) to submit with his RFE response. Independent letters of recommendation are a great way to improve your chances of passing an RFE because they can often take the place of citations to show that you have influenced your field. Be sure to work with your attorney in addressing the RFE concerns in the new letters you gather. This will provide valuable “quotable sentences” for your attorney to use in your RFE response.

Lastly, double check that you have included all the supporting documents your attorney has asked for on your check list for your RFE response (Guideline Number 6). Keep in mind that each person’s case is different and you must work with your attorney to identify the key points and evidence necessary to making yours a strong case.

We at Z&A employ the above general guidelines to help facilitate the immigration process in your favor and will work with you to address your individual RFE needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We provide free evaluation by e-mail or phone call for our potential clients. Good luck!

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients nationwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled thousands of immigration cases.

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, PERM, and I-485 cases. In the past twelve years, we have successfully helped thousands of clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.

Zhang & Associates, PC.

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Tel:1-800-230-7040, 713-771-8433


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