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Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Immigration Appeals


Requests for Evidence (RFE) from the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Instead of receiving a decision on your application or petition from the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). USCIS usually issues an RFE to request more information if something is not clear about your case, you failed to include the proper supporting documentation when you filed your application or petition, or the agency needs updated information regarding an aspect of your case.

Although an RFE does not mean that USCIS is about to deny your case, it does mean that the agency is unsure about whether you meet the requirements for the immigration benefit you are applying for. Your response to the RFE is your last chance to convince the agency that you meet the eligibility requirements for the particular application or petition you have filed.  You must file your response to the RFE by the date listed on the request, or your application or petition will be denied.

Appealing the Denial of an Immigration Petition or Application to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO)

You can appeal the denial of many petitions and applications for immigration benefits.  For example, you may appeal the denial of your citizenship application. Although there is no appeal to the denial of an application for adjustment of status, it may be possible to file a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider the decision.

Typically appeals of denials of immigration applications are made to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). The AAO is responsible for the appeals of more than 40 categories of immigration petitions and applications. There are strict deadlines to file an appeal.  If you do not file your appeal by the deadline, you will lose your right to appeal the denial of your application.

Appealing the Decision of an Immigration Judge to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)

Final orders of an Immigration Judge may be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The BIA is the government agency responsible for reviewing decisions by Immigration Judges and interpreting immigration laws.

To appeal the final decision of an Immigration Judge, you must file a Notice of Appeal with the BIA within 30 days of the Immigration Judge’s decision. This means that the Notice of Appeal must be received by the BIA by the 30th day. If an appeal is not filed on time, the appeal will be dismissed, and the Immigration Judge’s decision will stand.  This is true even if the BIA receives the appeal one day late.  If an Immigration Judge has denied your immigration case and you want to appeal, you should contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible.

Under certain circumstances, you may ask the Immigration Judge or the BIA to review the case again.  A Motion to Reopen or Reconsider is filed with the court that last heard the case.

A Motion to Reopen may be granted if you can show one of the following:

  • New facts or evidence
  • Changed country conditions
  • Lack of notice
  • Exceptional circumstances
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel (your lawyer did a bad job)

A Motion to Reconsider asks the court to reconsider the case in light of new case law or changes in the law.

Appealing Immigration Cases to a Federal Appeals Court

If the BIA rules in favor of the government, it may be possible to appeal your immigration case to a federal appeals court. Appealing to a federal appeals court requires filing a Petition for Review. In certain circumstances, asylum applicants may be able to file a Petition for Review.  Also, persons claiming that their criminal conviction is not a removable offense or that the government did not prove their alienage may file a Petition for Review. Persons ordered removed before October 30, 1996 may be able to Petition for Review for other reasons.