More and more H-1B petitions are coming in each year for the same 85,000 annual visas. At the same time, we have seen a sharp increase in the prevalence of RFEs in response to these petitions.
Why You Don’t Want that RFE
An RFE is a tool that CIS uses to make a decision about whether or not a candidate’s visa should be approved. While receiving an RFE is an opportunity to strengthen your case, or your client or employee’s case – a second chance at providing all of the requested evidence CIS needs to approve the visa – it is also a big red flag. A glaring omission or error on the petition triggers CIS to take a closer look at it and may very well uncover small errors and inconsistencies that would have otherwise flown under the radar that you will now need to address. With so many petitions and so few visas available, CIS needs its red flags for short cuts.
While an RFE can be used to your advantage to build a stronger case for your visa, or your client or employee’s visa being approved, the roadmap to answering the RFE is not always so straightforward. In many cases, the RFE will not directly tell you how to answer it in its wording. One daunting example of this is the notorious Nightmare RFE that is virtually impossible to answer in the time allotted to answer it, and for a reasonable price. To address an RFE, sit down with your team – the lawyer, the candidate, the employer, and the evaluator – to see what is being asked and of whom, and what CIS really needs to know by the questions they are asking. If what they are asking for in the RFE is virtually impossible to provide, you may be able to answer their underlying questions with documentation and evidence that it is possible for you to provide.
Of course, the best option is to avoid an RFE in the first place. We’re coming up on autumn, which means it’s time to start preparing for the FY2018 H-1B season. Here are five measure you can take from the get-go to avoid an RFE.
The best way to address an RFE is to avoid it. Don’t give CIS an excuse to pick apart your petition, or your client or employee’s petition. Tell them everything they need to know to make an informed decision about the petition the first time. We are seeing that if credential evaluations are submitted with the initial H-1B filing, a simple evaluation seems to be enough for CIS to approve the petition. However, with an RFE, a more complicated – and expensive – credential evaluation requiring more evidence, documentation, and even an expert opinion letter is almost always required.
Remember, an RFE is a big red flag waving high over the petition. Don’t wait for the opportunity to overturn an RFE to build a strong, solid case.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.
This article was written by Rebecca Little