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H1B RFE – Guide to Understanding Requests for Evidence
There might be a time when you have to submit an RFE, so USCIS can make a decision regarding an H1B case. But when you don’t know how this works, it’s difficult to know what you have to do. This is why we’re here, to offer you more information on the matter. Let’s explore this inquiry and see what it involves.
What Does H1B RFE Mean?
An H1B RFE refers to a situation when USCIS needs evidence in an H1B Case, so a request is sent to an applicant to receive it. RFE is short for “Request for Evidence”. Basically, an H1B RFE is used when an H1B visa application has to be reviewed. It can help determine if you’re fit to receive the visa in the first place.
Also, don’t get scared if you receive an H1B RFE. It doesn’t mean that your application has been rejected, but simply that some documents are missing from it, and they’re needed to determine your eligibility.
Common Reasons for H1B RFE
Have you received an H1B RFE petition? Then here are some of the most common reasons why it happened:
Mismatched Information on VIBE System
If your workplace is changing its structure, address or anything of the sort, then this will lead to receiving an RFE because of mismatched information on VIBE system. The VIBE system is used by USCIS, and it’s short for Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises.
Any change in the data you’ve submitted will give a little error and you’ll receive an H1B RFE request to give some data, such as wage reports or others.
Specialty Occupation + Level 1 Wage
Did you know that there are wage levels for all occupations? Depending on your situation as an employee, you can have level 1, 2, 3 or 4. Level 1 is for experience, level 2 for education, level 3 for supervision, while level 4 is for fully competent workers.
These levels are used to classify workers, so that when a foreign worker gets employed, it won’t affect the condition of the workers from the U.S. If you submit a petition and it’s only qualified for level 1, it will create conflict as the position you prefer is in no way different compared to others in the same occupation.
This is a common issue when it comes to H1B applications.
If you apply for an H1B visa, you must make sure you’re someone who’s obtained a bachelor’s degree. Also, the degree must be in line with your desired position. It doesn’t have to be a degree obtained in the U.S. – it can be from overseas too. Nevertheless, you’ll still be asked to provide evidence that you have it.
Sometimes, receiving an H1B RFE might be due to the reason that your degree doesn’t seem to be related to the position you apply for. USCIS will ask you for an explanation of the relevance of the degree for the job. This can be done through references, letters or any other documents from previous employers that can prove the relevancy.
If you work off-site, you might receive an H1B RFE. Basically, the employer-employee relationship needs to be evaluated, and this is difficult to do if you work off-site.
Evaluation happens based on whether the supervision happens off or on-site, whether the employer controls the employee, or the employer directly supervises the applicant.
Maintenance of Status
You need to maintain your current status, and any change or extension has to be documented if you want the H1B status to stay as it is. Use employment history and pay statements as proof for it. Likewise, in the event that you’re an F-1 student, make sure you prove your attendance to classes, to prove that prior to the H1B application, you completed your studies.
How to Respond to an RFE?
Don’t know how to answer to an H1B RFE? It’s actually not that difficult. There are a few methods you can use to answer properly.
When receiving the petition, the first thing to do is, of course, to read it to make sure you understand everything. Since petitions are something serious, you have to understand every aspect of them so you don’t do anything wrong.
Also, you should not answer it in parts. All questions have to be answered fully, and you should make sure you don’t miss any point. USCIS won’t send you a second petition, so make sure everything is right the first time around.
In addition, do not panic or make any decisions while your emotions are running high. As previously mentioned, it doesn’t mean that your application has been rejected – USCIS simply needs more information to help your case.
Include the required documentation, and double-check everything to make sure you send the complete package to the right address. In the end, send the response, but before the deadline is due. If you do that too late, that’s when your application will be denied, and you’ll have to take your time and reopen the case.
H1B RFE Trends and Rate
It seems that more and more H1B petitions end up with an RFE. Ever since 2015, when the RFE rate was merely between 10% and 30%, the percentage has grown, reaching 60% in 2019. Not to mention that the petition approval is decreasing too. It is 75% at this moment, while it used to be around 90% four years ago.
If you need to extend or transfer your H1B petition, or even make a new one, you should know that an I-129 form will be required by the USCIS. This form is sent by your employer in order to open the case for an RFE. Also, H1B RFE rates have had a boost in recent years too, since the presidential administration is now monitoring H1B petitions closely.
As for H1B RFE approval rates, they’ve had a decrease as well. Four years ago, the rate was 80%. In 2019, the rate took a blow, going down to about 60%.
RFE vs NOID
Apart from RFE petitions, there are also NOID ones. But while REFs are meant to inform you that more proof is required to make you eligible for the H1B visa, a NOID is different and more serious. NOID stands for Notice of Intent to Deny.
As the name of the petition suggests, it’s received when the person evaluating your petition is intending to decline it. Denial means that you’re not fit to receive the visa, whereas being rejected usually means an error has occurred.
You’ll get a NOID petition if the officer evaluating your case wants to prevent you from filing for another H1B, only to have the same thing happening. It also means that the officer thinks you or your employer are not eligible for the visa in the first place.
Luckily, just like it is with the RFE, it doesn’t mean your chances are over. If you provide proof to solve the problems that led to the NOID, you might save the case.
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An H1B RFE is nothing that should scare you. You might still be fit to receive your H1B visa, but some documentation might be missing, or you need to give more proof. Follow the instructions in this article, and if you still have curiosities, check out Stilt, as we have some posts with a lot of information that might help you.