What may I do if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies my application for refugee status?
There is no appeal for a denial of an application for refugee status. However, USCIS may exercise its discretion to review a case upon timely receipt of a Request for Review (RFR) from the principal applicant or a third party if the principal applicant waives his/her rights to confidentiality. The request must include one or both of the following:
(1) A detailed explanation of a significant error made by the adjudicating officer; and/or
(2) New information that would merit a change in the decision.
Generally, USCIS will accept only ONE REQUEST that is postmarked or received by USCIS at the designated filing location within 90 days from the date of the denial notice. Information about where to file may be found at the following links:
The following information is VERY IMPORTANT so please follow each instruction carefully.
You should include your Resettlement Support Center (RSC) case number, previously referred to as the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) case number, on EVERY page that is submitted.
The RFR must contain a complete return address (not just a phone number or email address) where the RFR response will be sent.
The RFR must be in English. Any supporting documents submitted with the RFR should be translated into English.
Principal applicants may seek assistance from another individual, organization or attorney when preparing an RFR. If you seek assistance in completing an RFR, the name of the individual, organization or attorney providing assistance and the relationship to the applicant should be included in the RFR. All RFRs must be signed by the principal applicant.
If an attorney is submitting an RFR on your behalf, a form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, must be submitted with the RFR. If someone other than an attorney is submitting an RFR, you should provide a letter stating that you waive your right to confidentiality along with the RFR.
The RFR should address the reason(s) you were denied. In order to determine the reason(s) for denial, read the decision letter carefully or ask staff from the RSC to explain it in detail.
If you believe an error was made in the decision process, you must provide a detailed description of the error(s). If you have new information to provide, it must contain sufficient detail to enable the reviewer to make a decision on your case. If the new information provided contains facts that occurred prior to the USCIS interview, you should include an explanation of why you did not present the information at the initial interview.
The RFR must be submitted within 90 days after the date of the decision (see date on denial notice). If the RFR is not submitted within 90 days, you must provide an explanation for why it is being submitted late.
The RFR may be mailed or delivered directly to USCIS or the RSC at the following addresses:
Your RFR will be reviewed, but the review processing time may vary based on location. The RFR response may be sent to you through established procedures (usually through the RSC, local representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or mailed to you directly at the address provided in the RFR). If you change addresses you must let USCIS know so that your RFR response will be sent to the correct address.
What else should I know?
You may want to consider having your RFR reviewed and corrected by someone who reads and writes English.
A typed RFR is preferred, because it is easy to read. If you cannot provide a typed RFR, please be sure that the handwriting is clear. USCIS staff cannot consider the RFR if it cannot be read. If the RFR is not readable, it will be rejected and returned.
Do not submit additional RFRs. Only your first RFR will be reviewed.
There is no limit to the length of an RFR. However, the RFR should specifically address the reason for the denial and should explain why you think the decision was wrong and/or explain how any new evidence submitted establishes that you are eligible for refugee status.
Do not provide general background information, country conditions or situation reports with your RFR. Accompanying documentation, such as human rights reports, or newspaper/journal clippings may be submitted if they directly relate to your case; for example, if the your name is mentioned specifically or an incident you were involved in is described.
If you wish to submit DNA evidence with your RFR, established procedures must be followed. Please consult with the RSC regarding the procedures in your location if you wish to submit DNA.
Unless specifically noted in the decision letter, additional documentation such as police reports, hospital records, marriage or birth certificates, etc. do not need to be submitted to support your claim. In cases where specific documentation is required, USCIS will specify this in the decision letter. You may, however, submit additional documentation or evidence for consideration that you believe is relevant to your case if you choose.
You will receive a written decision from USCIS regarding your RFR. USCIS may grant your case, may ask that you have another interview, or may decide that your case will remain denied. In some instances, you may be asked to provide additional evidence in writing before receiving a final decision.