What Is an I-797 Notice?

If the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent you a Form I-797 Notice of Action, it is merely a means of communication. USCIS uses form numbers to identify various documents. Even your green card has an official form number (Form I-551).
HomeUS Visa & ImmigrationWhat Is an I-797 Notice?

The USCIS uses the I-797 form to notify applicants regarding their immigration status, procedures, and benefits. Keep in mind that despite the name referring to a “form,” nothing needs to be filled out in the form.

Form I-797, Notice of Action, however, may convey very crucial information regarding your immigration case. Whenever USCIS notifies you, be careful to keep your Form I-797, in a safe and secure location.

Form I-797 is sent whenever USCIS contacts you, hence multiple versions of the form are available for various types of communication.

The various types of Form I-797 and each of their functions will be discussed in detail in this article.

Different Types Of Form I-797 

Form I-797, Notice of Action For Receipt or Approval

Form I-797 commonly referred to as a “receipt notice” or “approval notice,” is sent to immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to notify them that their application or petition has been received or accepted. You may also know it as Form I-797, Notice of Action.

USCIS will give you Form I-797 in 2 to 3 weeks after you submit your application or petition.

It’s a good idea to keep this letter since you could need it to demonstrate your eligibility for particular immigration benefits.

Even though it is only a receipt to let you know that your application or petition was approved, it contains useful information, such as your 13-digit receipt number. This number can be used to track your case status online.

Form I-797A, Notice of Action For Replacement of I-94

When Form I-94 is not available, USCIS issues Form I-797A to applicants as a replacement. Form I-94 is your arrival or departure record that is used every time you enter or leave the United States (U.S.).The form also displays your visa’s expiration date.

This notice of action form can be sent to you if you change your address while in the U.S. The I-797A serves as both evidence of your legal status in the U.S. and approval notice of your address change. 

You may stay in the country until the date mentioned on the I-94, which is found at the bottom of Form I-797A, Notice of Action.

Form I-797B, Notice of Action For Noncitizen Worker Petition

When you file Form I-140, formally known as the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers,” you will get Form I-797B. If your I-140 is accepted, you will receive Form I-797B, Notice of Action. It does not, however, contain an I-94 arrival or departure record.

Whether you are applying from your home country or are currently residing in the U.S., USCIS will give you an I-797B.

Form I-797C Notice of Action For Various Receipts And Calls To Action

USCIS sends you Form I-797C, Notice of Action, informing you of an application or petition which can include:

  • Receipt Notice: After a petition or application is submitted, USCIS sends out a receipt notice. The notice confirms the payment of your filing fees as well as the receipt of your application or petition.
  • Transfer Notice: Occasionally, USCIS moves cases to different offices to speed up processing. If your case was sent to another office, you will receive a transfer notice.
  • Rejection Notice: When USCIS rejects your application or petition due to missing information, incomplete information, or wrong payment, a rejection notification is sent.
  • Reopened Cases: If your case, which was previously denied, is being reopened and processed, you will be notified.
  • Appointment Notices: This notification contains details about an upcoming appointment, whether it be for an interview, fingerprinting, biometrics, or appointment rescheduling.

It’s crucial to carefully examine Form I-797C’s contents because they can provide instructions for the next step in the immigration application process. For instance, not reading the letter could lead to a missed appointment, which would significantly delay the process.

The form will also contain a receipt number. You can use the receipt number to check the status of your case.

Keep in mind that your application has not been approved by this message. It’s just a receipt and a request for action. 

Any Form I-797C sent after April 2, 2012, should be printed on paper and have the heading “THIS NOTICE DOES NOT GRANT ANY IMMIGRATION STATUS OR BENEFIT” at the top of the page. 

Form I-797C may be used as proof for some benefits provided at the state and local levels, even though it does not grant benefits. Therefore, even if this notice was received before April 2, 2012, it is a good idea to save it.

Form I-797D, Accompanies Benefit Cards

Form I-797D is not a notice of the action form. It is a letter that is included with some immigration benefit cards. You will receive Form I-797D if USCIS mails you a permanent resident card (commonly known as a “green card”) or an employment authorization card (“work permit”). The form will list the advantages of the card you are receiving.

Form I-797E, Notice of Action To Request Evidence

Form I-797E, Notice of Action, is also known as a Request for Evidence (RFE). A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer could occasionally want additional proof before making a final regarding your application or petition. The letter is a request for more critical information or required evidence to support your petition or application.

If you get this letter, it’s your job to read it carefully and to provide the needed evidence as soon as you can or within the allotted time frame. You run the risk of a delay or possibly rejection if you don’t reply or submit it.

RFEs should be avoided because they can cause delays in the application process. If you need to, work with an experienced immigration attorney who can assist you in appropriately filling out all the necessary paperwork.

Form I-797F, Transportation Letter for Overseas Travel

Form I-797F, like Form I-797D, is also not a notice of the action. The form is a letter that allows you to travel to the U.S. if you are overseas. The form will be sent by USCIS to your overseas address so you can return to the U.S.

I-797F is issued if you are a lawful permanent resident (holder of a green card) who has been outside of the U.S. and your green card has been lost or stolen, or mutilated while overseas. 

By submitting Form I-131A, formally known as the “Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation),” you can receive I-797F, a Transportation letter.

The transportation letter can be used to board a plane, but it does not ensure entry into the U.S., according to the filing requirements for Form I0131A. The U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) officer will decide this. 

It should be noted that a green card cannot be replaced by Form I-797F. The permanent resident must follow the standard procedures to apply for a new green card.

Address Change, I-797, Notice of Action

If you change your address, make sure to notify USCIS of your new mailing address as soon as possible. The forms must be received as soon as USCIS sends them because of the instructions included in Form I-797. Always update your mailing address to keep on top of every step of your immigration process. 

You must send Form AR-11 to USCIS directly to alert USCIS of your address change. Or if you have a USCIS online account, you can update your address manually online.

Priority Date, Form I-797, Notice of Action

The day USCIS received your application is your priority date. Prioritize this document and the date itself because it’s one of the most important dates to keep in mind.

Your priority date will determine where you appear on the Visa Bulletin maintained by the U.S. Department of State. If your final action date coincides with your priority date, you are in current standing and are allowed to take further action, including adjusting your status or commencing the consular processing.



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