Drafting a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider or Request for Evidence Response to USCIS: Proven Techniques for Success (Part 1)

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USCIS provides minimal guidance regarding the preparation of a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider or Request for Evidence (RFE) response. Unlike other USCIS procedures, CIS does not require the completion of a form when filing an RFE response. This little guidance provides a wide range of possibile methods to responding to the RFE. This article presents techniques that the Columbus Immigration Lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates have implemented for preparing successful responses to USCIS and focuses on the brief in support of an RFE response.

Prepare a Roadmap: Presentation Matters

While this might sound obvious, the most important element of the RFE response is drafting the response itself. Don’t spend all your time meeting with the client, gathering facts and conducting legal research. Too often, not enough time is spent on planning and presentation. Remember, an RFE has a strict deadline that often poses a tight timetable to prepare the supporting documentation and legal arguments. As the saying goes, “plan the work; work the plan.” This is an axiom the lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates live by. You must leave sufficient time to prepare a polished product. Preparing a polished written RFE response does not simply happen. It requires good planning, organization and writing.

Focus on the Facts: Don’t Drive from Boston to Chicago via Nashville!

Regardless of what factual information you decide to present, you must determine the order in which to present the facts. Consider the following illustration: If you decide to drive from Boston to Chicago, it is unlikely you would drive first to Baltimore, then to Nashville and finally to Chicago, unless of course time and money were of no concern. Likewise, the immigration officer will expect to see some logical order to the presentation of the facts in your RFE response letter. Don’t confuse the Immigration officer by driving from Boston to Chicago via Nashville!

There are various approaches for ordering the presentation of the facts: chronological, biographical (e.g., describing key individuals along with facts associated with them), or transactional. Employ whatever approach you use consistently throughout the RFE response. Your facts should be presented persuasively without being argumentative. Facts, not opinions, will convince the USCIS officer to look favorably upon your client’s case.

Develop Logical and Convincing Arguments

Developing a logical argument requires repeating the following sequence: 1) present issues raised by the USCIS officer, 2) present your answers to the inquiries, and 3) present the reason(s) for your answer. The lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates are trained to only include the relevant facts associated with the answer. We are disciplined. We constantly remind ourselves to include only those facts that are required to answer the question asked (issued raised) by the USCIS officer. Nothing more, nothing less!

Just as important, you should never inject irrelevant law into the argument. Too often lawyers are enamored with the law. We read an interesting case and become fascinated by it. Including unnecessary legal authorities only distracts the attention of the adjudicating USCIS officer, thus weakening your argument. Finally, we must tie together the law and the facts in a logical manner using the thread that ties the issues, facts and law together. We utilize analogical reasoning that allows us to connect issues with facts and legal authorities. The basic idea is that through the use of analogies, the USCIS officer (and Immigration Judges) will follow the course suggested by the analogy and thus conform their decisions to the existing body of law.

Analogical Reasoning: How it Works

In practice, and as commonly practiced, it works something like this: an immigration officer confronted with an unsettled question will survey past decisions and identify ways in which these decisions are similar to or different from each other and the question before him or her. The officer will then develop a principle that captures the similarities and differences he or she considers important. The principle, in turn, provides the basis for the judge’s own decision. Our lawyers are diligent in providing analogical reasoning to every RFE response they draft. For the follow up to this article, please refer to the second installment.

How to Contact Us

If you have questions about a Request for Evidence, Appeal or Motion to Reopen or Reconsider, and/or you need help in an immigration process, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney. Our law firm handles various matters including Green Cards and Permanent Residence, family immigration, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, employment visas and H1B visas, Investor Visas, PERM applications, and many more. Please contact us and experience how our law firm can assist you in your immigration matters. Whether you are an employer, an employee or a family member, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA has competent, responsive and innovative lawyers who can make your immigration experience pleasant and seamless.