U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) previously gave agency officers the flexibility to determine individual response times for requests for evidence (RFEs) tailored to the circumstances of each case. USCIS released an interim policy memorandum on July 13, 2011, changing the standard timeframes for applicants or petitioners to respond to RFEs because, the agency said, "this delegated flexibility has led to inconsistencies in the RFE process."
USCIS is amending the standard timeframes listed in Appendix 10-9 of the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) to include:
- A standard timeframe of 30 days for the Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539); and
- A standard timeframe of 84 days for all other form types, regardless of whether the request is for initial or additional evidence, or whether the evidence is available in the United States or is obtained from overseas sources.
The maximum response time for an RFE may not exceed 12 weeks (84 days), the memo states. However, when an RFE is served by mail, USCIS officers should include additional mailing time for the RFE to reach the applicant/petitioner and for the response to reach USCIS. The standard mailing time established by regulation is three days. As a matter of policy, USCIS has determined that the mailing time should be longer when the applicant or petitioner is residing outside the United States. USCIS amended the AFM accordingly to include appropriate mailing times in addition to standard response times.
The memo does not apply to asylum applications or applications for relief under Section 203 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act.
The memo is available here.