United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses Form I-797 to communicate important information to applicants, petitioners, and beneficiaries regarding immigration applications. These legal documents confirm the status of an immigration petition.
For example, Form I-797 can confirm receipt of an application via mail. This type of notification is also known as a receipt notice. Additionally, USCIS may use Form I-797 to communicate that a petition has been approved. In this instance, the I-797 notification may be called an approval notice.
Besides receipt notices and approval notices, there are several other ways that USCIS uses Form I-797. We describe each type of I-797 below.
What is Form I-797?
There are several variations of Form I-797. Use the guide below to understand the notices most relevant to your immigration journey.
Form I-797 Notice of Action
A Form I-797 Notice of Action (as compared to I-797A, I-797B, etc) is simply a receipt notice or approval notice. After filing a USCIS petition, you can usually expect to receive a receipt notice within two to three weeks. For petitions with premium processing, you may receive the notice within a few days. Approval notices are issued by USCIS as soon as a case is approved, which depends on USCIS case processing times.
Form I-797A Notice of Action
Form I-797A is issued by USCIS as a replacement for Form I-94. For context, Form I-94 is an arrival and departure record that the U.S. government uses for all non-citizens/permanent residents.
An I-94 is proof of legal status in the U.S. It also states an immigrant's "admit until" date. This date is the last day an immigrant is allowed to stay legally in the U.S.
However, there are a few instances in which the I-94 needs to be replaced by an I-797A. For example, if you receive a change of status visa approval from within the U.S., your I-797A will replace your existing I-94. This is because you've been granted the ability to stay in the U.S. longer than the "admit until" date on your I-94.
Form I-797B Notice of Action
Form I-797B is an approval notice that does not replace an I-94. It shows that a visa or other immigration application has been approved, but does not grant the applicant legal stay in the U.S.
For example, someone with an approved immigrant visa like an EB-1 or EB-2 would receive Form I-797B. Since immigrant visas like EB-1 and EB-2 do not grant applicants legal status in the U.S., these approval notices do not include an I-94 and therefore differ from Form I-797A approval notices.
Form I-797C Notice of Action
USCIS issues Form I-797C for a variety of purposes, including to notify applicants and petitioners of the following:
- Interview appointments
- Biometrics appointments
- Appointment rescheduling
- Case receipts
- Cas transfers
- A reopened case
- Case rejections
If you receive Form I-797C, read the notice carefully and communicate with your immigration attorney.
Form I-797D accompanies benefit cards and explains any immigration benefits associated with a recent approval. For example, you will receive I-797 if your green card (also called permanent resident card) or work permit was recently approved.
Form I-797E Notice of Action
Form I797E is a Request for Additional (RFE). USCIS issues RFEs when they need additional information about a pending case. Form I-797E details the exact documents USCIS is looking for regarding a pending case. The RFE notice will also include a due date by which you must respond. To ensure a visa approval, work with an experienced immigration team to prepare your RFE response.
Form I-797F Transportation Letter
U.S. permanent residents can use Form I-797F to enter the U.S. if their green card is lost or stolen abroad.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I check my USCIS case status online?
You can track your petition's status online after receiving your receipt notice. On the receipt notice, USCIS will give you a unique receipt number (also called case number) that you can enter into the case tracker on the USCIS website.
Where does USCIS send I-797 notices?
USCIS mails I-797 notices to the mailing addresses listed on USCIS forms. For instance, USCIS may mail I-797 notices to both your employer and your home address if they are both listed on your immigration forms.
How do I know whether USCIS received my visa petition?
USCIS will notify you via a receipt notice. Generally, it takes about 2-3 weeks to receive a receipt notice from USCIS. If your petition was filed with premium processing, you may receive a receipt notice within a few days. You can also opt-in for text status updates on your USCIS online account.
Do I need to keep a physical copy of my I-797 forms?
It's always a good idea to keep a copy of every I-797 form. We recommend keeping a folder with all your immigration documents and bringing it with you anytime you travel internationally.
Final Thoughts: I 797 Notice of Action
Now that you understand the different types of I-797 notices, deepen your immigration knowledge with these resources: