What is the difference between RFE and NOID?

Navigating the complex U.S. immigration system can be challenging, especially when encountering technical terms like RFE and NOID. In this post, we will explain the difference between these terms, especially in the context of an EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) visa petition, but the same concept applies to any visa you may be applying for.

Let’s explore what RFE and NOID mean, how they work, and their importance in the immigration process. If you are seeking the EB-2 NIW visa, this article is a valuable resource to better understand the process and what to expect.

The first point to understand is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot, in most cases, deny your immigration visa petition without giving you an opportunity to defend yourself.

This opportunity for defense is precisely provided through RFE or NOID. The difference between them is simple: RFE is a request for more information to assess a visa application, while NOID is a notice that the petition is about to be denied, giving the applicant a last chance to explain.

Below, we detail each of them a bit.

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What is an RFE?

The term RFE is an acronym in English that stands for Request for Evidence. An RFE is a request issued by USCIS when there is a need to obtain more information or additional documents to assess the eligibility of the applicant for the EB-2 NIW visa or any other visa.

It is essential to emphasize that RFEs are a normal process and do not mean that the initial petition was poorly prepared. Since the evaluation criteria for visa eligibility is subjective and depends on the immigration officer who will review your case, it is normal for the government official handling your documentation to have some doubts and raise some questions.

Especially with the recent popularity of the EB-2 NIW visa, officers sometimes just want to make sure that you are indeed eligible for the visa.

The RFE plays a crucial role in the EB-2 National Interest Waiver visa process as it gives an opportunity for the applicant to provide additional evidence that strengthens their case and proves their eligibility. Therefore, responding appropriately and fully to the RFE is essential to increase the chances of visa approval.

Why does USCIS issue an RFE?

USCIS issues an RFE when the immigration officer believes that more information and documents are needed to assess a request for an immigration benefit. This occurs, according to the USCIS manual, when the documentation submitted by the applicant or their legal representatives was not sufficient to substantiate the officer’s decision.

If foreign documents (such as a diploma) presented as primary evidence are considered unreliable, USCIS may also request secondary evidence. In cases where secondary evidence is still insufficient, USCIS may also request an in-person interview with the applicant.

In the most common cases, USCIS requests specific documents that were not included in the petition or that the adjudicator overlooked. In these cases, providing the requested document is sufficient.

In addition to requests for specific missing or deficient documentation, USCIS may issue an RFE because the officer has doubts or lacks clarity regarding your case. Sometimes, they want a more detailed explanation of how the evidence provided in the petition does indeed meet the requirements of national interest, in the case of the EB-2 NIW visa. It is a way for the officer to justify the approval decision to their supervisor if the case is later reviewed.

USCIS can request various types of evidence in an RFE, depending on the specific case. Here are some examples of types of evidence that USCIS may request:

  • Identification documents: This may include passports, birth certificates, or other official documents proving the applicant’s identity.
  • Proof of eligibility: Depending on the type of immigration benefit being requested, USCIS may request additional evidence to prove the applicant’s eligibility. For example, in the case of a work visa, this may include employment contracts, job offer letters, or evidence of relevant work experience.
  • Financial evidence: In some cases, USCIS may request evidence that the applicant has sufficient financial means to support themselves in the United States. This may include bank statements, tax returns, or proof of employment.
  • Evidence of relationship: For family-based visas, USCIS may request additional evidence to prove the relationship between the applicant and the visa sponsor. This may include marriage certificates, family photos, or correspondence between the parties.

How to respond to an RFE?

An RFE can be responded to by providing the necessary supporting documentation in a clear and well-organized format. Use headers, subheadings, numbering, and bullets as necessary to keep the content organized.

Avoid long paragraphs and make sure to clearly indicate whether the content is a fact or analysis. Present any data using graphs and tables.

Remember, each case is unique, and the type of evidence requested in an RFE may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the applicant. Therefore, it is always advisable to seek legal assistance when responding to an RFE. If you opted for self-petitioning when applying for your visa, meaning you filed the petition without a lawyer, consider hiring one if you received an RFE.

At the same time, if you initiated your process with a lawyer and want the RFE to be responded to by another attorney, this can be done, as you have the right to change your legal representation at any time.

Normally, you have only one opportunity to respond to an RFE. Once USCIS receives the response, it will move forward with adjudication, approving or denying your visa, although it may, at its discretion, issue multiple RFEs (which is not very common).

Another important point to note is that a partial response to an RFE may be better than no response, as a lack of response practically guarantees the denial of the petition. An incomplete response may help the applicant gain more time if they cannot gather all the additional evidence requested by the USCIS within the deadline stipulated by the RFE.

RFE response deadline

When USCIS issues an RFE, it indicates an expected deadline for the response. This deadline is usually 30 days, with a maximum of 12 weeks (84 days). It is crucial to send the response within the deadline set by the USCIS, as unjustified delays will result in the denial of your case.

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What is NOID?

NOID is the acronym for Notice of Intent to Deny. It is a notice issued by USCIS when the immigration officer identifies issues with a petition that may lead to its denial.

A NOID is, therefore, more severe and urgent than an RFE.

Properly responding to a NOID is crucial, as it can be the difference between approval and denial of a petition. Therefore, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice upon receiving a NOID.

Why does USCIS issue a NOID?

A NOID is issued when USCIS has severe doubts about your eligibility for the visa. It means that the immigration officer is inclined to deny the petition.

The NOID indicates that, based on the information presented in the petition, a preliminary decision has been made, and you do not qualify for visa approval or immigration benefit.

The idea behind the NOID is to share the motivations for the possible denial with the immigrant to discourage them from using resources and appeals to have their petition reviewed by the U.S. immigration judicial system.

In general, USCIS is also obligated to issue a NOID when derogatory information (such as legal convictions) about the petitioner is discovered during the adjudication process, and USCIS intends to deny the petition based on these revelations.

NOID response deadline

In the NOID issued by USCIS, the deadline for submitting a response must be stated, and this deadline can never exceed 30 days.

Difference between NOID and NOIR

Both NOIR (Notice of Intent to Revoke) and NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) are notices issued by the USCIS, but they serve different purposes:

  • NOID: As mentioned above, a NOID is issued when the USCIS identifies issues with a petition that may lead to its denial.
  • NOIR: A NOIR is issued when the USCIS intends to revoke a petition that was previously approved. This usually happens if the USCIS discovers information suggesting that the petition should not have been approved in the first place.

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