- 1 What Is I797? What Is It Used for?
- 1.1 What Is Form I797 and What Is the Purpose Behind This Form?
- 1.2 When does USCIS send I797 Notice of Action?
- 1.3 A complete guide to what the form I797 is, and what are the different types of form I797? What are the differences between these forms?
- 1.4 Types of Form I-797
- 1.4.1 Form I-797, Notice of Action
- 1.4.2 Form I797A, Notice of Action – Replacement of I-94
- 1.4.3 Form I-797B, Notice of Action on Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker
- 1.4.4 Form I-797C, Notice of Action with Important Information
- 1.5 Form I-797D, Comes with a Benefits Card
- 1.6 What are USCIS Receipt numbers? How to get USCIS I797 status updates?
- 1.7 How can you get the status update using the USCIS Receipt number?
- 2 Conclusion
What Is I797? What Is It Used for?
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) deals with thousands of different types of applications with various types of petitions that the immigrant and non-immigrant petitioners file. USCIS segregates these forms using different form numbers to organize the work or to differentiate between them- and- this includes the notices sent by them as well. While most of their forms are automated, Form I797 is one such document that USCIS fills out on its own and sends the applicants.
What Is Form I797 and What Is the Purpose Behind This Form?
In this article, we are going to provide you with a comprehensive guide on form I797 that will help you navigate through the various aspects of this form including its uses, what you should do with it, and much more. But before heading to a more detailed version, let’s first understand what this form is.
Form I797, also formerly known as “Form I797 Notice of Action” is a group of forms that acts as a medium of communication for the USCIS with the applicants. Even though the Agency calls it a “Form”, this is not something that you can fill out like an application. Instead, it is a “notice” as the name implies what USCIS sends out to the applicant to convey approval of the petition, an immigration benefit, etc. The form bears some important information which is why you need to read it thoroughly when you receive it and keep it safely in a file for future reference/use.
When does USCIS send I797 Notice of Action?
USCIS sends I797 Notice of Action within two or three weeks after they receive your application. This application is a notification letter and in no way serves the purpose of a visa or any other benefit except for updating you about the action taken on the USCIS’ side.
That said, let’s dig a bit deeper into Form I797 and its features, its types, and its functions.
A complete guide to what the form I797 is, and what are the different types of form I797? What are the differences between these forms?
As mentioned earlier, the I797 Notice of Action is sent by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to the applicants as a response to their application/ petition that they have received the package. You might either get an I797 approval notice from the Agency which indicates that they will move forward to the next steps, or, they might request more evidence. So basically, this notice includes some important information or instructions that the applicant needs to go through thoroughly and respond to if needed without any further delay.
Features and Content of the Form I797 Notice of Action
I797 Notice of Action holds details about the petitioner and the beneficiary, the category you have requested for, the nature of the case, the priority date, etc. To the top left of the page, you will find a unique code which is a combination of three alphabets and followed by 10 numbers. This is the receipt number which is going to serve as one of the most important information in the future. You will need the receipt number to check the status of your case or provide this number to the USCIS if you have to inquire about something related to your petition.
To the top right-hand side, one can find the case type which includes what type of petition/ application it is. Right below the receipt number, you might find “Priority date” with a defined date mentioned in the field. The form I797 approval notice comes with a priority date if you apply for a green card or a visa. It is the date on which the USCIS receives the application. This is yet another piece of information you need to remember in this process just like the receipt number.
One needs this date to check the visa bulletin to keep a track of where you stand on the waiting list (The link provided is a sample of what a visa bulletin is and what purpose does it serve.). When your priority date comes in line with the final action date, this means that they are current, and one can contact the NVC and go through the consular processing for adjustment of status or visa.
i797 Approval Notice
Right below this information, you will find the I797 approval notice stating that USCIS has approved your case and that it is proceeding to the next level. A little description of the petition you have filed. They sometimes also mention an approximate timeline until you hear back on the next process.
There is a replacement I-94 Form (Arrival/ Departure Record) in the lower half of the form that you need to use now instead of the one given to you by the US Customs and Border Protection at the time of your entry into the country.
**Now, one of the important things that you should remember is that the Agency sends this form by mailing it to your address. So in case there is a change in your address, or you are relocating, you need to update it in the USCIS database immediately to keep receiving the letters from them seamlessly. You can either do this by filling up form AR 11 (Alien’s Change of Address Card) or go to the website and update it if you have an online account with USCIS.
Types of Form I-797
There are different types of forms each serving different purposes or rather to convey different things to the applicants. Depending on what USCIS needs to notify you or convey to you regarding your petition, they send you one of these forms. You will learn more about these i797 forms individually, so you know what it means when you get them.
The various types of forms that you will see in the I797 group are:
- The Form I797, Notice of Action
- Form I797A, Notice of Action for Replacement of I-94
- The Form I797B, Notice of Action on Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker
- Form I797C, Notice of Action with Important Information
- The Form I797D, comes with a Benefit Card
- Form I797E, Request for Evidence
- The Form I797F, Transportation Letter
Form I-797, Notice of Action
This is the simplest form of Notice of Action form in this category that only serves as a normal receipt notice. If you receive this form, it means that USCIS has received your application related to the immigration petition and that it has approved it. This is why it is also often termed as I-797 Approval Notice. Remember that this document is not something that can be used for employment, traveling, nor does it serve the purpose of a visa. This document also doesn’t prove in any way that you have been granted the status which you had applied for.
I797 Notice of Action is the very first stage of the application processing and there are several more levels to go before USCIS decides on granting the requested immigration benefit. Even though this document is only a receipt, it has an importance of its own. The two most important elements in Form I797 Approval Notice is the receipt number and the Priority Date both of which we have explained above and you will need for future use. Other than that, you might also be asked for it as evidence anytime during the application process. Therefore, you must keep this document safe till the end of the process.
Form I797A, Notice of Action – Replacement of I-94
As the title suggests, Form I-797A serves as a replacement for the I-94 (Arrival/ departure record). USCIS issues this form if you applied for the extension of I-94 to extend your stay for reasons like a change of address if you filed to adjust your status or a non-immigrant work petition. This form is evidence of your lawful presence in the country. It also indicates that your request for a change of status has been approved and that you can stay in the country until a decision on the status change has been made.
The I-797A has the new I-94 at the bottom of the form, and it includes your date of entry into the United States, the admission class, and the date until which you can stay in the country.
Form I-797B, Notice of Action on Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker
If you want to work in the United States and you filed I-140 (Immigrant petition for alien workers) then you get Form I797B from the USCIS. If you get this form it means that your petition has been approved and you can now legally work in the United States. 1-140 is a step forward to green card processing and many people want to start working while their green card is pending as it takes a long time for the adjustment of status decision to come.
Form I-797B, Notice of Action comes with a lot of instructions on it that you need to read carefully. The bottom section of the document includes information related to the application, your current situation, and other details. USCIS can issue the I797 form to you irrespective of whether you are in the United States or your home country.
You need to make a note that this form doesn’t usually come with an extension of stay in the US. So if you do not find an I-94, and if you are in your home country, then you will have to visit the US consular there and get your visa stamped so you can enter the US. If you are in the US and your validity for staying in the country is nearing its expiry then you may have to return to your home country and get the visa. See if you can apply for an extension of I-94 while you are in the United States. In any case, go through the instructions carefully before you proceed with the next steps.
Form I-797C, Notice of Action with Important Information
One of the most common types of forms that USCIS sends to applicants is Form I-797C. The Agency uses this form to convey different types of important information or follow-ups related to the applicant’s case. USCIS may send you this notification letter to convey-
Receipt of Application/petition:
USCIS issues the Receipt notice through I-797C two to three weeks after they apply. This letter states that the Agency has received the application and confirms the payment of the fees. You need to keep this form safe because it has the receipt number that you will need for future reference like checking case status, etc.
Rejection of Application:
If for some reason your application is not accepted due to missing information in the petition form, incorrect details, or wrong payment, then the Agency sends the rejection of application notice through this form. You need to read the contents of the form and follow the instructions on what you should do. You can also consult an immigration expert on this.
Notice of Appointment:
USCIS issues this form to communicate about the scheduling or rescheduling of various appointments as a part of the application processing. If you have filed an application and received I797C, make sure to see what it is about. You may either be scheduled for a biometrics appointment, the second biometrics in some cases, or an interview with the Immigration officer in one of their Application Service Centers.
The letter will include the date, time, and location of the appointment, the list of documents that you need to carry, or other information that relates to this. Pay closer attention to all the details in the form to avoid missing out on anything that may result in the delay of the overall process.
Notice About the Transfer of the Case:
Occasionally, USCIS transfers a few cases to other offices to speeden up the processing time or to look into a specific case in case it needs special attention. In such cases, the Agency sends a Transfer Notice informing the applicant about the transfer of the case to another office. You do not have to do anything about it because the new office will start from where the older one left and keep you updated as they proceed.
Notice on Reopening of the Cases:
This notice is issued to you by the USCIS to notify you that your case has been reopened if your application or petition was denied earlier for some reason.
Form I-797D, Comes with a Benefits Card
I797 is probably the best one out of the lot that all the applicants want. This form comes accompanying a benefit of some form like your Employee Authorization Card, or, even the Green Card depending on which immigration benefit you had applied for.
It will probably be one of the most exciting moments when you open this form, but remember that this is an official document that can serve as a piece of evidence to show to the officials in case of loss of one’s EAD or Green Card. Therefore, do not forget to keep this form safely along with your other application-related documents.
Form I-797E, Request for Evidence
This I797 Notice of Action form is issued by USCIS when they want you to submit more evidence for your application. Form I-797E is commonly known as “Request for Evidence” or RFE. USCIS sends you this notification letter if you haven’t submitted sufficient supporting documents with your application; or, they are not convinced enough with what you have submitted and need you to provide better evidence to support your petition. You do not have to panic when you see this notice. It may just be simple ones like the birth certificate or little higher-end ones like financial statements, etc.
Whatever the case is, make sure to read carefully through every line of the instruction and make a note of the timeline within which you need to submit the documents. Failing to provide the requested information accurately and on time may lead to denial of the case.
Form I-797F, Transportation Letter
Form I-797F, Transportation Letter or the travel permit as the name implies is a document sent to the permanent residents (green card holders) who are abroad or to those whose green card is misplaced, stolen, or damaged, enabling them to come back to the United States. Unlike all the other forms in this I797 group, this is the only one that you can use for traveling into the country.
You need to go through and follow all the instructions mentioned in your I-797F travel permit so that you can travel back to the US. The form has different instructions for different individuals based on their case and situation. When you receive it, make sure to keep this document safe and secure and make multiple copies of it.
So these are the various types of I-797 Notice of Action forms that communicate different information to the applicants. Every form needs to be kept safe along with all the other important documents for future reference.
What are USCIS Receipt numbers? How to get USCIS I797 status updates?
When you apply with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it sends you back a Receipt Notice through Form I797, also called the Notice of Action. This form has an alphanumeric code on the upper left side of the document which is the ‘USCIS receipt number’. This is the reason why this form is also addressed as Receipt Letter in many places. The form and the receipt number on it, thus confirm that the Agency has received your application package and will move forward to the next stage.
USCIS deals with thousands of applications together, therefore, providing them the receipt number helps them find your case easily. Also known as the case number, this receipt number comprises 13 characters and is a unique combination for each case. You need to save the I797 form safely because this number will help you and the Agency track your case and you will be able to check the status of your case whenever you want to.
Now, this case number or the receipt number is not just some random code. If you notice, the combination comprises 3 alphabets (which will be any of these- WAC, CSC, SRC, NRC, TSC, VSC, EAC, NBC, LIN, MSC, or IOE); followed by 10 numbers.
The three letters that begin the series are the code for the USCIS service center that received the case. The first two numbers placed after the alphabets indicate the fiscal year (not the calendar year) that the agency had received the case. The next three numbers after the fiscal year are the computer workday which is the day the case was received and opened.
List of Abbreviations
Here’s the list of abbreviations and the USCIS service center name:
- WAC-Western Adjudication Center (Now California Service Center)
- CSC-California Service Center
- SRC-Southern Regional Service Center (Now Texas Service Center)
- NRC-Nebraska Service Center
- TSC-Texas Service Center
- VSC-Vermont Service Center
- EAC-Eastern Adjudication Center (Now Vermont Service Center)
- NBC-National Benefits Center
- LIN-Lincoln Service Center (Now Nebraska Service Center)
- MSC-Missouri Service Center (Now National Benefits Center)
- IOE-USCIS Online Account
- PSC-Potomac Service Center
How can you get the status update using the USCIS Receipt number?
It is very easy to retrieve your case status update if you have the receipt number. Here are a few ways you can check track the current status of your application:
To check online, you can use the USCIS online status tracking tool. When you are on the page, just enter your receipt number and click on the check status button. You will be directed to the page showing your case status details. On this page, you can also create an account with the USCIS to get case-related updates in email in the future.
You can also check your status by phone or by email. You can call the USCIS at +1 (800) 375-5283 and follow the IVR instructions. Since several people are calling to check their case updates, you may need to wait in the queue before getting connected to the system. Make sure to keep the receipt number handy because the system will be able to pull up your information if you provide them with your receipt number.
If you want to get the case related information through email then depending on which application center is processing your application, you can email them at:
- California Service Center: [email protected]
- Vermont Service Center: [email protected]
- Texas Service Center: [email protected]
- Nebraska Service Center: [email protected]
If your case is being looked into by the National Visa Center (NVC), then you should use the Visa Status Tracker to check where your application stands.
Form I-797 is one of the important documents in your application processing and you need to keep it safely for future reference. Although some of these forms are just the mode of communication or follow-up from the Agency to the applicants, they contain important information like the receipt number, your case-related details, the USCIS’s action on the application. These can be produced as evidence in rare cases if there is a problem with the case. The entire process from applying for an immigration benefit to getting the approval can take a while. That is why we have also included the various ways that you can check the status of your application so you are aware of what is going on.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs):
While I-797 is not a document that can replace a ticket or a visa, one of its types I797F is the only document that lets you travel to the United States. This form is a transportation letter sent to the Green Card holders who are in their home country or their card is damaged, stolen, or lost. You need to follow the guidelines mentioned in this document and you should be able to travel.
The USCIS receipt number is found in the I797, Notice of Action which you receive around two to three after you file your application. USCIS sends you the form containing the receipt number as a confirmation once they receive your petition.