USCIS Letters? Serious Consequences For Delayed Responses.
When someone files a petition or application for an immigration benefit such as a green card or naturalization for U.S. Citizenship, sometimes United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues either a Request for Evidence (RFE) notice or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) letter.
RFE, is a request issued by USCIS requiring additional supporting documents to assist an immigration officer deciding on whether to approve or deny a case because the supporting documents submitted with the original application is insufficient for the immigration officer to reach a decision.
NOID, is a notice issued by USCIS indicating its intent to deny a petition/application that was submitted for several reasons including failure to meet eligibility requirements, grounds of inadmissibility, grounds of deportability and so forth. The applicant generally has an opportunity to respond to this notice within a certain time frame to persuade USCIS to change its intent as a matter of law or a matter of fact through new evidence.
Because both RFE and NOID have strict deadlines and seldom are extension ever granted, it is important not to procrastinate in responding to them because doing so poses the following dangers:
1. Long and Extensive RFE/NOID lead to missing deadlines
In an RFE, USCIS may requests a long list of additional supporting documents. In a NOID, USCIS may identify multiple reasons why it intends on denying a petition or application. If a client procrastinates, the client and the attorney the client hires may not have enough time.
In the RFE context, the list of additional supporting documents required may be extensive so waiting to gather these documents instead of acting quickly may not give ample time for the client and attorney to work to acquire these required documents. Some documents require the client/attorney to reach out to various agencies to obtain and these agencies may have long processing times to make the documents requested available. Thus, if a client procrastinates the RFE deadline may come to pass before the documents requested can be obtained to submit to USCIS.
In the NOID context, some reasons USCIS indicates as to its intent to deny a petition or application could require that a waiver be filed such as grounds of inadmissibility. A waiver takes time to complete. If a client procrastinates the attorney may not have enough time to effectively prepare the waiver, which reduces the client’s chance of getting the waiver approved.
Some NOID may also list reasons that require an attorney to do additional research on the legal matter to have a valid legal response.
2. Higher Legal Fees
The longer a client waits to hire an attorney to respond to an RFE or NOID the client risks having to pay more to retain the attorney. When a client waits to hire an attorney to respond to an RFE or NOID and an attorney still decides to take on the client, the attorney essentially may have to drop everything else the attorney is working on and give the RFE or NOID the highest priority. That is expensive! So, if a client acts quickly and give the attorney ample time to review and thoroughly respond to an RFE or NOID, the client avoids having to pay a higher legal fee for the attorney’s service. Every person’s case is different, so responding to these requests is never a matter of cut and paste.
3. Procrastination Leads to Mistakes and Ineffective Responses
Even if an attorney agrees to handle a client’s RFE or NOID case last minute and a client accepts a premium payment for the attorney’s service, doing so poses significant risk to the client. If an RFE or NOID is extensive, the attorney may not have sufficient time to do as effective of a job because the attorney risks acting in haste to meet the strict deadline and may not be able to thoroughly review all that is required in the RFE or to address all the issues identified in the NOID. Since an RFE does not provide for supplemental submission post deadline and will only consider whatever documents that is submitted in the response, an attorney acting in haste to meet the strict deadline may be unable to obtain everything the request requires. Leaving even a single question unanswered or a single document out of the submission may enable, USCIS to use that omission to proceed with the denial.
4. No Legal Representation at the Last Minute
If a client waits too long, a client may not have any attorney who is willing to take on the case even if the client offers to pay the attorney a premium price. An attorney may be concern of possible ineffective assistance of counsel issue because the attorney may not have ample time to give the client the most effective legal representation. The client is left with figuring out how to respond to the RFE or NOID on his or her own or not respond at all. In most instances, the chance of success responding to an RFE or NOID on one’s own is minimal. Failure to respond means accepting losing by default with little chance to appeal.
Here at Winborne LaFleur PC, we work with our clients thoroughly to prepare a complete response to USCIS. It is important that a client who receives an RFE or NOID retain an attorney immediately.
Joseph “Jody” LaFleur Esq.