Information on RFEs for DJs and Musician Visas
By Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. and Pablo G. Velez, Esq. of Velez & Cipriano, PLLC

After a musician, DJ or other artist submits a visa application for U.S. work authorization, the USCIS occasionally issues a “Request For Evidence” otherwise referred to as an “RFE.” (I-797E “Notice of Action”) The issuance of an RFE is not a formal or full rejection or denial of the visa, rather the notice requires that the applicant submit additional information, documentation, or other requested facts to the visa examiner to enable them to decide on the pending visa petition.

While the content of each RFE letter is different, they follow a similar structure which includes a list of all the evidence required to meet the standards of the status, pointing out what has been accepted, as well as any deficiencies. It is prudent to ensure that the examiner has verified that they have received all the information included in the act’s original application. In addition to including the accepted information, the notice lists evidence that the application is currently lacking and that must be submitted by the applicant in order for the visa petition to proceed. As a result, the provided notice indicates the evidence that is deficient or missing and is therefore preventing the officer from issuing a visa. The RFE highlights which eligibility requirements are unsatisfied and lists acceptable documents that may be submitted by the party to satisfy the conditions.

Finally, the RFE includes a response deadline and a mailing address where the responding documents must be submitted. The failure to timely submit the RFE documents could cause the immigration official to review the application without this additional information, which generally does not bode well for the application’s success. Additionally, in light of COVID, the response deadlines for previously issued RFEs have been extended. In fact, the USCIS will now consider and review a response “received within 60 calendar days after the due date in the RFE, if the issuance date listed on the request or notice is between March 1, 2020, and July 25, 2022.”

While this extension provides a bit of leeway for any currently pending applications, if a musician or DJ does receive an RFE, which are more common for first-time applicants, it is crucial for the individual or their agent or manager to begin gathering and timely submit the requested evidence to best strengthen their application. Complying with this additional request provides the applicant with the best chance for approval. Furthermore, the parties should always leave sufficient lead time before a tour or live show date in case any RFEs are issued. This time is crucial because some requests might require some additional work on the musical acts side to gather the requested documents.

Ultimately, each situation is different, but a musical act who receives an RFE related to their pending visa application should immediately review and begin working on a response. The failure to timely respond could potentially cause the visa to be denied which could jeopardize a musician’s entire upcoming gigs and their overall business.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted.

© 2022 Justin Jacobson Law, P.C. and Velez & Cipriano, PLLC