Our Fee for RFE write-up starts at $195.00 and up to $495.00 depending on the complexity
If your H1B picked in the lottery, and you have issued a Receipt Notice, you may get an approval or receive an RFE. In fact, 6 out of 10 petitions receive an RFE (Request for Evidence)
Time Frame: USCIS has begun adjudicating the H1B petitions filed under regular processing program on or after April 07. Adjudication of Petitions may take anywhere between 1 month to 6 months; you may receive an approval notice or an RFE within this time.
RFE (Request for Evidence): If an RFE issued, USCIS would adjudicate the H1B petition in 60-90 days from the day they receive the response from your H1B Employer/Attorney
Approval Notices: If your case is approved, your H1B Employer will be given a physical H1B approval notice. For normal processing H1B petitions, H1B Employer will NOT receive any email notifications.
YOU MAY CREATE AN ACCOUNT AT USCIS.GOV WEBSITE TO RECEIVE EMAIL AND TEXT ALERTS FOR YOUR CASE, ANY CHANGE IN CASE STATUS WILL BE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED BY USCIS.
What is an RFE and why USCIS sends an RFE?
RFE stands for Request for Evidence. While adjudicating an H1B petition, if USCIS is not satisfied with the provided documentation and information; USCIS will send a letter asking for more information to the H1B Employer/Attorney. USCIS also allows up to 3 months for sending a response. The processing time will then depend on how soon your H1B Employer/Attorney sends a response to the RFE Notice.
While applying for an H1B visa with the USCIS, proper documentation is the key to avoiding RFEs. The employer documentation is exhaustive and differs from Employer to Employer.
What kind of RFEs can I expect?
The most frequent requests for evidence are as follows and USCIS may ask for one single item or all of them items as listed below:
• Education of the beneficiary, foreign equivalency evaluation (if overseas education like India)
• Availability of a Project or Client with the H1B Employer
• Employer – Employee Relationship, Client Letters
• Employer Business
• Maintenance of Status for beneficiaries in the United States (Filed under Change of Status to H1B)
RFEs on Specialty Occupation
USICS needs information from the Employer to confirm that the offered job qualifies under specialty occupation. In other words, the job needs someone with a specialized knowledge possessing at least a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field. USCIS will specifically request the H1B Employer to explain the nature and complexity of the job and why it requires someone to possess a bachelor’s degree to perform the job. Your H1B Employer should account for the job in detail with examples; time spent on each task/duty on a weekly basis. It is the responsibility of H1B Employer to show evidence to USCIS and provide proper documentation.
To perform a Job of a Programmer/Analyst one may require a Bachelor’s Degree and the occupation Programmer/Analyst qualifies under specialty occupation
To complete a task of an Administrative Assistant, one does not require a Bachelor’s Degree and the occupation Administrative Assistant will NOT qualify under specialty occupation
It is critical to note that USCIS will not simply go by the Job title while adjudicating the H1B petitions, they will rely on job duties.
What is a Specialty Occupation?
In order to perform services in a specialty occupation, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Hold a United States baccalaureate or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
- Possess a foreign degree determined to be equivalent to a United States baccalaureate or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
- Have any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation (for example, architect, surveyor, physical therapist) in the state in which employment is sought; or
- As determined by USCIS, the equivalent of the degree required by the specialty occupation acquired through a combination of education, training, and experience. Specialty occupations may include but are not limited to, computer systems analysts and programmers, physicians, professors, engineers, and accountants.
RFEs on Education and Experience
The offered job should be directly related to the field of study. If you have a US Master’s Degree in Chemistry and your H1B job is Programmer/Analyst which not related, it would trigger an RFE. USCIS will send an RFE asking the H1B Employer to show evidence “How the beneficiary will work as a Programmer/Analyst when his/her field of study is Chemistry.”
The educational evaluation for overseas degrees usually ignored while sending the H1B Petition; you may have a BS degree in Computer Science or a MCA; USCIS must get a document stating the equivalency of your Education in the United States to determine the level of your education. For Indian degrees like IIT, IIM are exempt from this requirement.
What is an Educational Evaluation or Foreign Credentials Evaluation?
Your international education and experience is evaluated by a Private Agency or a University Professor to determine your educational equivalency when compared to the United States degree. Since your education is from another country, there is no way USCIS can determine that you have a valid degree.
In some cases, where your education is NOT directly related to the job offered, the evaluator may use your experience to determine the equivalency. Each three years of work experience will be counted towards one year of college in a related field.
Example: Bachelor’ in Engineering (Mechanical) + 3 Years of IT Experience = Bachelor’ in Engineering (Information Technology or Computer Science)
My H1B was applied as a Programmer/Analyst, and I have a non-related degree with IT Experience, equivalency evaluation has not been submitted, would I get an RFE?
Yes, most likely. USCIS must determine that you qualify for the job and you have related degree and/or experience.
If you have any questions on the Education part, please post in comments, one of our H1B supporters is a professional educational evaluator and she will answer your questions.
RFEs on Availability of a Project or Client
This is the most important item, especially when an H1B is filed by a Consulting Firm. If you’re H1B was applied by a large company with A/K/A full-time basis, you may not worry about an RFE for this item.
But, for IT consulting firms, it is a big problem to show sufficient H1B specialty work for the requested H1B period of Employment.
USCIS wants to confirm that the H1B Employer has sufficient specialty occupation work available with the H1B Petitioner. A petitioner may have good revenue and bank balance to pay the salary, unlike the GC process; ability pay is not required for H1B petitions. H1B Employer must demonstrate the following:
- A viable existing internal/in-house project with Market analysis, customer base and competitor analysis to employ the beneficiary under H1B basis
- A contract/client letter from a Client showing that a Specialty occupation work available for the requested H1B period of Employment
RFEs on Employer – Employee Relationship
This is a trivial RFE, and H1B Employers/Attorneys have tough time responding RFEs related to Employer–Employee Relationship
What is this Employer–Employee Relationship?
On January 08, 2010, USCIS Director issued a Memo concerning H1B Employment and how the H1B Worker will be controlled by the H1B Employer while working at a third-party client site. See the official Memorandum.
The memo also discusses examples of evidence the petitioner may submit to establish that an employer-employee relationship exists and will continue to exist throughout the duration of the requested H-1B validity period. Examples of that evidence include a complete itinerary of services or engagements, a signed employment agreement with the beneficiary, and relevant portions of valid contracts statements of work, work orders, or service agreements with the end-user client.
Common Law (Internal Revenue Service): Under the common law rules, every individual who performs services that are subject to the will and control of the employer, as to what must be done and how it must be done, is an employee.
However, H1B Employers cannot just state that we will be paying the beneficiary and he/she is our Employee. There are many factors beyond Payroll, benefits, performance reviews to be considered while providing a response to such RFEs. If the H1B Employer is not careful while sending a response for this item, it may end up in your case getting denied.
On February 18, the USCIS held a "Collaboration Session" in Washington, D.C., to address the growing concerns about the implications of the Neufeld Memo. Approximately 500 people (400 via teleconference) attended the two-hour session, in which USCIS officials responded to the "unintended consequences" caused by the Neufeld Memo.
H1B Employers must demonstrate how they control the beneficiary’s employment while H1B workers are placed at third-party client site, it is a common scenario if your H1B Employer is a Consulting firm. see illustration below. H1B Employers must demonstrate their ability to supervise and control H1B Employee’s Work/Product and the ability to hire/fire the H1B Employee. Also, demonstrate that only H1B Employer has the right to assign additional duties to beneficiary NOT the Vendor and/or Client.
Citing the H-1B regulations, the Neufeld Memo explains that a U.S. employer that files an H-1B petition must have "an employer-employee relationship with respect to employees under this part, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay, fire, supervise or otherwise control the work of any such employee." Adjudicating officers are instructed to weigh the following factors when determining whether a valid employer-employee relationship exists:
- Does the petitioner supervise the beneficiary and is such supervision off-site or on-site?
- If the supervision is off-site, how does the petitioner maintain such supervision, i.e., weekly calls, reporting back to the main office routinely, or site visits by the petitioner?
- Does the petitioner have the right to control the work of the beneficiary on a day-to-day basis if such control is required?
- Does the petitioner provide the tools or instrumentalities needed for the beneficiary to perform the duties of employment?
- Does the petitioner hire, pay, and have the ability to fire the beneficiary?
- Does the petitioner evaluate the work-product of the beneficiary, i.e., progress/performance reviews?
- Does the petitioner claim the beneficiary for tax purposes?
- Does the petitioner provide the beneficiary any employee benefits?
- Does the beneficiary use proprietary information of the petitioner in order to perform the duties of employment?
- Does the beneficiary produce an end-product that is directly linked to the petitioner's line of business?
- Does the petitioner have the ability to control the manner and means in which the work-product of the beneficiary is accomplished?
The Memo emphasizes that the determination of whether an employer-employee relationship is valid should hinge on the extent to which the petitioner has the right4 to control the beneficiary's work, i.e., control over when, where, and how the beneficiary performs the job. Also, adjudicating officers should consider the totality of the circumstances when weighing these factors, including the nature of petitioner's business and an H-1B beneficiary's work. Furthermore, the petitioner must maintain the right to control the work of the beneficiary throughout the H-1B validity period to constitute a valid employer-employee relationship in the H-1B petition context.
How is this possible, I will be working at the Client site, I may be reporting to the t manager?
Unfortunately, based on the Neufeld Memo and regulations, H1B Employers must demonstrate that your H1B Employers controls your Employment.
What Evidence can we submit to satisfy this requirement?
In addition to analyzing the parameters of a valid employer-employee relationship, the Neufeld Memo specifically includes the following list of the types of evidence that an H-1B petitioner may submit with an initial petition in order to demonstrate that a valid employer-employee relationship will exist for the duration of the H-1B validity period:
- A complete itinerary of services or engagements that specify the dates of each service or engagement, the names and addresses of the actual employers, and the names and addresses of the establishment, venues, or locations where the services will be performed for the period requested;
- Copy of signed Employment Agreement between the petitioner and beneficiary detailing the terms and conditions of employment;
- Copy of an employment offer letter that clearly describes the nature of the employer-employee relationship and the services to be performed by the beneficiary;
- Copy of relevant portions of valid contracts between the petitioner and a client (in which the petitioner has entered into a business agreement for which the petitioner's employees will be utilized) that establishes that while the petitioner's employees are placed at the third-party worksite, the petitioner will continue to have the right to control its employees;
- Copies of signed contractual agreements, statements of work, work orders, service agreements, and letters between the petitioner and the authorized officials of the ultimate end-client companies where the work will actually be performed by the beneficiary, which provides information such as a detailed description of the duties the beneficiary will perform, the qualifications that are required to perform the job duties, salary or wages paid, hours worked, benefits, a brief description of who will supervise the beneficiary and their duties, and any other related evidence;
- Copy of position description or any other documentation that describes the skills required to perform the job offered, the source of the instrumentalities and tools needed to perform the job, the product to be developed or the service to be provided, the location where the beneficiary will perform the duties, the duration of the relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary, whether the petitioner has the right to assign additional duties, the extent of petitioner's discretion over when and how long the beneficiary will work, the method of payment, the petitioner's role in paying and hiring assistants to be utilized by the beneficiary, whether the work to be performed is part of the regular business of the petitioner, the provision of employee benefits, and the tax treatment of the beneficiary in relation to the petitioner;
- A description of the performance review process; and/or
- A copy of petitioner's organizational chart, demonstrating beneficiary's supervisory chain.
The evidence that H1B Employers can submit may vary, if you have a particular situation, please comment below and I will provide information.
Am I required to submit a letter or other documentation from the end-client that identifies the beneficiary to demonstrate that a valid employer-employee relationship will exist between the petitioner and beneficiary if the beneficiary performs services at an end-client/third-party location?
No. While documents from the end-client may help USCIS determine whether a valid employer-employee relationship will exist, this type of documentation is not required. You may submit a combination of any documents to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence that the required relationship will exist. The types of evidence listed in the memorandum are not exhaustive. Adjudicators will review and weigh all the evidence submitted to determine whether you have met your burden of establishing that a qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist.
If you have a particular situation or I have missed anything, please post comments!
To satisfy the Employer-Employee Relationship, it will be easy if you have a letter from end client with job duties, education along with a Statement that the H1B Employer controls your Employment, with Hire/Fire abilities.
More about Client letter RFEs
As such, please demonstrate an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary through the right to control the manner and means by which the product or services will be accomplished for the duration of the requested H-1B validity period by providing a combination of the following or similar types of evidence. This list is not inclusive of all types of evidence that may be submitted. You may submit any and all evidence you feel would meet the employer-employee requirement.
- Copy of relevant portions of valid contracts between you and a client (with whom you have entered into a business agreement for which your employees will be utilized) that establishes that while your employees are placed at the third-party worksite, you will continue to have the right to control your employees; and
- Copies of signed contractual agreements, statements of work, work orders, service agreements, and letter between you and the authorized officials of the ultimate end-client companies where the work will actually be performed by the beneficiary, which provides information such as a detailed description of the duties the beneficiary will perform, the qualifications that are required to perform the job duties, salary or wages paid, hours worked, benefits, a brief description of who will supervise the beneficiary and their duties, and any other related evidence.
Why do they ask for a Client letter, when USCIS Memorandum also clarifies that?
A Client letter may not be required if the Employer can establish the Control over H1B beneficiary's work/product.
Recent FAQs published by the USCIS, a letter may not be required from the end client if petitioner can demonstrate the Employer-Employee relationship “USCIS Issues Guidance Memorandum on Establishing the "Employee-Employer Relationship in H-1B Petitions”
Am I required to submit a letter or other documentation from the end-client that identifies the beneficiary to demonstrate that a valid employer-employee relationship will exist between the petitioner and beneficiary if the beneficiary will perform services at an end-client/third-party location?
No. While documents from the end-client may help USCIS determine whether a valid employer-employee relationship will exist, this type of documentation is not required. You may submit a combination of any documents to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence that the required relationship will exist. The types of evidence listed in the memorandum are not exhaustive. Adjudicators will review and weigh all the evidence submitted to determine whether you have met your burden in establishing that a qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist.
The biggest challenge is to obtain a Client letter for many H1B workers
The client will NOT Provide a letter confirming services, it's a policy. Hey, I don't buy it! These Clients spend heavy budgets to pay the Vendors to seek services of an H1B and also change policies time-to-time and even increase funding for the project if needed.
It is against their policy to write a simple letter stating that “This H1B worker is providing services”. They will not even send an email stating so.
Here are some tips for a Client letter
- Improper paperwork while filing the H1B petition
- Not using services of a qualified Immigration Attorney
- Failure to establish the "Employer-Employee Relationship" while filing the H1B petition
- Inefficiency of the person filing and lack of knowledge of the USCIS regulations (Mostly happens when employers outsource such sensitive work to overseas)
- Employers’ attitude “We will see when there is an RFE” just send the application
- Requesting a three-year validity when the project is only 6 Months
- Listing both Employer and Client location on LCA, when you perform services off-site
How to overcome this issue if there is a request for client letter?
We have seen many approvals coming along in an EVC Model (Employer-Vendor-Client). However, several H1B petitions are being denied, especially by CSC (California Service Center)
- Clearly, Explain the Contractual Path (See blog Image)
- Provide phone number and name of your Client Manager on the RFE response
- Provide Weekly Reports on your Employer letter head signed by both the parties, supported by time-sheets
- Provide letters/affidavits from co-workers at the same Client place, stating that you work with him and the Client does not control work, along with location information
- Provide a notarized affidavit from Employer and yourself stating that you work as a contractor at the Client site - If you need a template, please ask under Comments!
.RFEs on Employer Business
USCIS must determine that the Employer is in the business and satisfy the requirements of the United States of Employer. There are number of documents your Employer can submit based on the type and size of the Employer
“Under C.F.R. 214.2(h) (4)(ii) “United States employer,” is defined as follows. United State employer means a person, firm, corporation, contractor, or other association, or organization in the United States which:
(1) Engages a person to work within the United States;
(2) Has an employer-employee relationship with respect to employees under this part, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay, fire, supervise, or otherwise control the work of any such employee; and
(3) Has an Internal Revenue Service Tax Identification number.”
What documents can the H1B Employer submit to satisfy this requirement?
• Tax ID Letter from IRS
• Tax Returns
• Company registration documents
• Office Lease or Ownership
• Telephone or utility bills
• Website screenshots
• Yellow Pages or Google Listings
RFEs on Maintenance of Status for beneficiaries in the United States (Filed under Change of Status to H1B)
These items cover RFEs issued only for H1B petitions for beneficiaries who are presently in the United States to seek a change of Status to H1B as of October 01. Based on your present status, you may be required to submit the following information.
• Change of Status from F1/OPT/M1/J1
• All forms I-20 and OPT Cards
• Confirmation of tuition payments to school
• Eligibility of Cap-Gap (if any)
• Change of Status from F2/J2
• All form I-20s of Spouse
• Confirmation of tuition payments to school
• Marriage Certificate
• Change of Status from L1
• Paystubs as of H1B filing date
• L1/I-797 validity until September 30 or I-94
• Change of Status from L2
• Paystubs of spouse as of H1B filing date
• L1/I-797 validity of spouse until September 30 or I-94
• L2/I-797 validity until September 30 or I-94
• Marriage Certificate
• Change of Status from H4
• Paystubs of spouse as of H1B filing date
• H4/I-797 validity until September 30 or I-94
• Marriage Certificate
• Change of Status from B1/B2
• I-94 Validity until September 30
Conclusion on RFEs: USCIS may request all the above information or a combination of information based on the documents initially submitted with the H1B petition. I did my best in providing the information on RFEs; please comment if I have missed anything.
NOID (Notice of Intent to denial) – What is this?
On very rare occasions, USCIS issues a NOID on particular H1B petitions, when USCIS determines that there has been misrepresentation or fraud while filing the H1B petitions. The NOID may be sent before an RFE or after an RFE response is received.
Conclusion: As long as the Employer does home-work and properly files the H1B petition and establishes the Employer-Employee relationship, you should not worry about the Client letter issues.
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