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11 Common H1B RFE Reasons to be Aware Of
May 20, 2022
5 mins
The Department of Homeland Security's H1B entry admission stamp. In the corner of the banner, there is a sticker that says, "Welcome to the America, work and live USA"

You will find the following information in this blog:

  • H1B RFE Rates
  • Common reasons for an RFE
  • How to respond to an RFE?

Before going into the reasons for RFE in H1B, it is imperative to take a look at what is RFE H1B in depth.

Are you one of those H1B applicants eagerly awaiting a response from the USCIS? What if you received an RFE instead of an approval? Wait! Do not panic! An H1B RFE does not indicate a denial or rejection of your visa petition. It simply means the USCIS requires more information or documentation to process your visa. However, you're probably wondering why you've received an RFE. This article provides all of the necessary information. Read on to clear your doubts and discover the answers to your questions.

A Brief Look At The H1B Visa & RFE

First, let's take a moment to review the popular H1B visa requirements before we discuss the reasons you might receive an RFE.

An H1-B visa is one of the most sought-after non-immigrant visas that allow foreign nationals to work as professionals in the United States for a specified period. This employment-based visa has some specific requirements. As an H1B applicant, you must have the following basic criteria:

  • A bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or an equivalent.
  • An offer for a specialty occupation from a US-based employer.
  • Skills, experience, and expertise to work in the specialty occupation.

An existing employer-employee relationship is also one of the major requirements for the USCIS to approve your H1B petition. If your petition does not have adequate evidence to fulfill the criteria, the chances of the USCIS sending you a Request For Evidence (RFE) are highly likely.

What is the H1B RFE?

The USCIS will sometimes issue an RFE before arriving at a decision about your H1B petition. Your employer will receive the RFE notice (for your H1B petition) by mail. However, you may use your case status tool and check your H1B status online to ascertain whether you received an RFE.

If the USCIS does not receive adequate information to process your visa, it can deny your petition. Therefore, receiving an RFE is a positive sign that indicates the USCIS' willingness to give you another chance to produce the documents required for an H1B visa.

What should you do once you receive an RFE? The responsibility to respond to an RFE lies with your employer. As far as the H1B visa is concerned, your employer must submit Form I-129 for every visa transfer, extension, or application for a new visa. Filing Form I-129 opens the case to an RFE every time a petition is filed.

Let's now take a look at the H1B and RFE rates.

RFE Rates for H1B Visa

The new statistics released by the USCIS in 2021 reveal that although H1B approval rates rose in the fiscal year 2020, they remained low compared with the previous years' approval rates. The information in this tabular column will help you understand the RFE rates for recent years.

Fiscal Year

H-1B Approvals RFE Rate Approvals with RFE
2020 91.4% 28.8% 73.4%
2019 84.9% 40.2% 65.4%
2018 84.5% 38.0% 62.4%
2017 92.6% 21.4% 73.6%
2016 93.9% 20.8% 78.9%

From this table, we can clearly understand that the RFE rates have steadily risen. The following is a compilation of the reasons for an RFE. If you are an H1B applicant, it is important to know what they are.

RFE Reasons: Why does the USCIS Issue an RFE

1. Mismatched data on the VIBE system

Mismatched information on the VIBE system is one of the top reasons to receive an RFE. VIBE is short for Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises. Any change in your employer's workplace structure, address, or other mismatched detail can lead to an RFE from the USCIS.

2. No proof of employee-employer relationship

The USCIS has hard and fast rules about granting an H1B visa only if a qualifying relationship exists between the sponsoring employer and the employee. If the H1B employee is made to work in a different location, the USCIS will seek clarification about the following:

  • Where the employee performs the job role
  • How the employer will maintain control over the H1B employee
  • Proof that the specialty occupation can be performed from the offsite location.

3. Specialty Occupation + Level 1 wage

H1B workers are classified into Levels 1,2,3 and 4. This categorization is done to ensure that the condition of American workers is not affected when a foreign employee joins the organization. If you submit a petition that is only eligible for level 1, it will create a conflict since the position you wish to obtain is identical to those held by others in the same occupation.

4. Improper payment of fees

You must pay the required fee to submit your visa petition. Not paying the fee will definitely invite an RFE from the USCIS.

5. H1B Specialty Occupation RFE

One of the prime requirements for an H1B visa is your educational certificates and work experience documents that prove your eligibility for the specialty occupation. Failure to do so will lead to an RFE.

6. Problems with the LCA

The LCA is the first and foremost step in the H1B visa process. You will most likely receive an RFE if your employer:

  • Forgets attaching the LCA with your H1B petition
  • Skips the Labor Condition Application process entirely
  • Does not ensure the LCA matches your job position and the petition terms.

7. Unrelated educational degree

Sometimes, a bachelor's degree may not be related to the specialty occupation the H1B worker is hired for. In such cases, the USCIS will send an RFE asking for clarification on how the degree relates to the job position.

8. Job Itinerary problems

If your job requires you to be at your end-client location, it is your employer's responsibility to include your itinerary with your H1B petition. Your itinerary should include a detailed description of the following:

  • Your job responsibilities
  • Duration of the job
  • Your salary and benefits
  • Other job requirements
  • Hours worked on the job
  • Details about the supervisor

The USCIS will issue an RFE if your itinerary lacks any above details.

9. Living in a distant location from the workplace

If you live far from your office, you may receive an H-1B RFE. However, you can resolve this RFE by providing a valid reason for living so far away.

10. Maintenance of Status RFE

The USCIS may request additional evidence to prove your H1B legal status if your employer fails to pay you while on the bench or has any problems maintaining your status.

11. Availability of work at the client location

The H1B sponsoring employer must provide ample evidence to prove that you will have a specialty occupation for the entire three-year period mentioned in the petition. Lack of availability of work for the said period can invite an RFE.

Also read: Answering Frequently Asked Questions About H1B RFE

How to Respond to an RFE

Please remember that your employer must respond to the RFE on time. The USCIS grants a 90-day window from the time your employer receives the RFE. He must utilize the time to gather the required documents and ensure that he answers all inquiries thoroughly. If not, the USCIS will reject your petition. A delayed response to an RFE will only prolong the H1B processing duration and jeopardize your chances of obtaining the visa.

If your employer receives an RFE, he must consult an immigration attorney regarding the further course of action. He may also ask them about the types of RFE for H1B.

For information about H1B and to know more about US non-immigrant visas, follow/visit Techfetch H1B.

**Disclaimer: All H1B processes are subject to change. Kindly refer to the USCIS official website for the latest updates.

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