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What is a request for evidence, and what does it mean for my visa?

Your employer filed a petition for your H-1B visa months ago. The wait to find out whether you’ll be accepted can feel like an eternity. This pivotal decision could be a defining moment in your career.

At long last, you finally receive word from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But instead of the anticipated acceptance letter, it’s something you hadn’t expected: a Request for Evidence (RFE).

Is this a bad sign?

Receiving an RFE means that, in reviewing your visa petition, the USCIS determined that some information was missing. An RFE does not mean that your visa has been denied; it just means that you need to provide additional details or proofs to fill in the gaps.

Common issues that result in an RFE

There are many reasons that you could receive an RFE. While the petition may have supplied all of the necessary documentation, it may have failed to connect some critical dots. Here is some of the most common missing information in the H-1B petition:

  1. Appropriate occupation: H-1B visas are for professionals in so-called “specialty occupations.” In the petition, your employer needs to explicitly explain how your job meets these criteria as defined by the USCIS.
  2. Your qualifications: While your employer may have demonstrated that the job in question fits the definition of a “specialty occupation,” they may have failed to show how you qualify for this occupation.
  3. Appropriate relationship: The petition did not adequately demonstrate that the petitioner is, in fact, your employer – with the authority to hire and fire you.
  4. Work availability: Your employer did not provide evidence to demonstrate that they would have enough work for you to last the full length of your visa.
  5. Your status: Your employer’s petition did not show that you have appropriately maintained your current status.
  6. LCA certification:Your employer did not provide evidence that they obtained Labor Condition Application (LCA) certification, or they did not demonstrate how this certification applies to the terms of the H-1B petition or to your offer of employment.
  7. Six-year ceiling: Records show that you have reached the six-year H-1B limit, and the petition fails to explain your qualifications for other exemptions (i.e., H-1B extension or AC21).
  8. Work in different locations: Your job requires you to work in various locations, and your employer’s petition did not include an itinerary detailing the time and place of your work in each location.
  9. Missing payment: The petition did not provide evidence that the employer had paid all of the necessary fees to file for an H-1B visa.

The process of filing an H-1B petition is extraordinarily detailed. If your employer completed it on their own, the chance of small mistakes or oversights is high – which can lead to delays or rejections. This is one reason that seeking help from an immigration attorney experienced in the employment visa process can be so valuable.

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