Has the Immigration Service gone too far in issuing the number of requests for evidence that have been coming in recent cases? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney practicing law here in St. Louis, Missouri. A request for evidence is a formal document from USCIS in which they ask a petitioner to send in additional documents.
However, I’d like to say at the outset that in every application we try to do everything we can to get every single document to USCIS and to make sure that the file is as complete and as approvable as possible from the outset. That’s how we’ve always done things. But in discussing this matter with other immigration attorneys across the country we’ve all seen a tremendous uptick in the number of request for evidence issued by USCIS.
There’s cases now where they were identical to cases that we filed four five years ago, and now we’re getting all of these requests for evidence that are very onerous, very time consuming, and very worthless. We’re forced to respond to all these things on behalf of our clients. It causes delays and headaches and a lot of busy work for our clients and for us, and it really is ridiculous.
Now let me give you an example of this. So we have a client. We have filed a very similar petition three times before in the last four years. Same kind of visa, same kind of employer, in fact the identical employer, same kind of performer coming to the United States on this particular type of visa. Now, last week we received a request for evidence on this case which we’ve just recently filed.
Now, you should know that this request for evidence that we received is eight pages long. It goes on and on asking for a bunch of documents that have nothing to do with anything, and it really is ridiculous. There’s no reason for it. It’s a complete waste of time. We really are left scratching our head as to why they’re asking for so much more additional information.
We have filed the identical petition in the last three times and it’s only this time that we received this over-broad, overreaching, and onerous request for evidence. It really needs to stop. It’s as if the Immigration Service feels they need to justify their existence, or their increased number of people in the request for evidence department investigating these cases. It really is just ridiculous and we sure hope that it stops.
Now, when we file an application we do everything we can to make it approvable and to be as complete as possible. We filed the exact same petition this time as the last time. And it really doesn’t make much sense that now our client and we are forced to scramble to get all this evidence gathered when the Immigration Service already has everything that it needs in order to prove the case.
Now, luckily we know and are equipped with the skills and the knowledge necessary to respond to one of these requests for evidence. But one of the things we find really troubling is that our fees are being issued in cases in which individuals don’t have an attorney. Now of course there’s a reason for that. If you don’t know all the rules, and you don’t know the procedures, and you don’t know how to put an immigration application together, then it’s only natural that you’re going to be issued request for evidence.
Now I’m not saying that the Immigration Service should only issue request for evidence for cases in which there isn’t an attorney, and that in cases where there is an attorney they shouldn’t issue them. All I’m saying is that it’s natural that there would be request for evidence in pro se or unrepresented cases. But the problem with that often is that the people who have filed without an attorney, without legal help, don’t know how to respond to the request for evidence. We’ve seen time and time again people get their application denied because the request for evidence was not compliant with and all of the evidence that was requested was not provided. So it’s a real problem in the unrepresented case.
So if you’re thinking about filing your own application, or even more importantly if you have filed your own application and you’ve received one of these request for evidence, you really need to make sure that you talk to an attorney.
At that stage it would be my strong recommendation that you hire a competent immigration attorney, that you not try to go at it alone, and that you make sure that the time that you spent working on the application, the time that you spent waiting for the application to be approved, the money that you spent in filing fees, and the heartache that’s going come if your case is denied, I really hope that at the point you receive one of these request for evidence that you take it straight to an immigration attorney, you sit down with him, you figure out what exactly the Immigration Service is requesting, and you make sure you get it to them.
That’s what we do in our cases. We make sure that we file a complete response to the request for evidence, that our clients’ applications are put in the strongest position possible, so that we can increase the chances of their applications being approved.
If you have questions about request for evidence, or if you’ve been [stymied 00:05:04] by your attempts to respond to one, if you’re scratching your head because the Immigration Service has just dropped some boiler plate objections and evidence questions in the request for evidence, be sure to pick up the phone, give us a call, 314-961-8200, or you can email me [email protected] Thanks.