I-797, Notice Of Action – Explained

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Have you recently submitted an application for a U.S. visa and are wondering what your status is? Or, have you received a notice of action form and are nervous about what it entails? No matter what previous knowledge you have when it comes to Form I-797, you’re not alone.

But, it’s important to state that relieving a notice of action is not bad, in theory. Mostly, these notices are ways for USCIS to be transparent about where they are at in your visa application. Some types of I-797 forms can include letters, notices, approvals, or other types of communication.

All in all, we will use the following article to inform you about how the notice action works. And, because we understand how time-consuming and money-consuming the U.S. visa process can be, the support you can find from ImmigrationDirect will be ideal. So, before you stress, read on about what this form will mean for you and your case.

Form I-797 Notice of Action & Its Purpose

This form is simply a form of “communication.” This means that if you receive this form, you are ultimately getting an approval notice from USCIS for the application or petition you have submitted. This form isn’t one you fill out, but to simply keep safe if needed for evidence in your case.

Because form I-797 plays so many roles, there are different categories that you can receive. When USCIS attempts to communicate with you regarding the documents that were sent to them, Form I-797 is delivered for various reasons. No action is needed upon receiving this form unless stated otherwise.

Different Types of I-797 Forms

It’s important to bring to light the various I-797 types that can be delivered throughout any of the visas offered. Because this form is so imperative in the communication between the USCIS and visa applicants, there are multiple forms and actions of notice that can be sent.

Below, we will explain more about the various categories receipt notices.

I-797, Notice of Action

If your Form I-797 is a notice of action, then you will know that USCIS has been approved. This form will act as an approval notice for the applications you have submitted or the petition you have sent in. On the sheet, you can look in the “notice type” section of the form, and you will see an approval notice.

Remember, keep this notice of action safe because it can be used for future proof or evidence.

I-797A, Notice of Action for Replacement of I-94

This category of I-797 notices has to deal with Form I-94. This form is the only legal proof you have for living in the United States. And, this form will be filed when you have an established address in the country. The address you have will be found at the bottom of Form I-94.

So, let’s say you misplace Form I-94 which has your permanent address listed on it. You can receive the I-797 notice of action in place of your misplaced I-94 form. This notice is generally sent as a replacement for Form I-94.

I-797B, Approval of the Alien Worker Petition

If you are seeking a work-based U.S. visa, you will originally need to file Form I-140. Form I-140 is known as the immigrant petition for alien workers. Once you have submitted this form and it’s been approved, the notice I-797 will be an approval letter for what was submitted.

I-797C, Important Follow-Up Information

Form I-797C will be sent to you if your application or petition was received, transferred, re-opened, or rejected. These mean the following:

  1. Receipt notice: When USCIS receives your application or petition, they will notify you of this. They will send you this notice to communicate with you, and it’s up to you to keep it for future use.
  2. Rejection Notice: If you receive this, it means that your application or petition wasn’t filled out properly. Generally, you will need to go back to the application and fill it out again, or re-try a payment if it wasn’t done correctly.
  3. Transfer notice: Sometimes USCIS will transfer applications to different departments for any reason. Sometimes there are backups in offices and by transferring your application, it may be completed more quickly. However, no matter what happens with your application in terms of transfers, communication will be known.
  4. Re-opened: If your case was previously denied, and it is being reopened due to any reason, you will receive a notice. Or, if your reopened case is being processed again.

On the other hand, this notice can make you aware of upcoming appointments. Some appointments include visa interviews, fingerprinting, or medical exams. When you receive this form, you must read it fully, and find out if there are any instructions you need to follow. If you don’t read this letter fully and don’t follow the instructions, you can face a delayed visa process.

Additionally, as of last year, the United States will now allow immigrants to use this notice along with their expired permanent residence card to give to employers. This way, confirming legal residence can be easy if your card has expired and you are in the process of getting a new one. For cases like this, your I-797C can be accepted instead of needing to present an I-9 form.

Below are the two designs of Form I-797C, one is before 4/2/2012 and another is after 4/2/2012. For the purpose of cost savings to the government it is printed on plain paper instead of bond paper with DHS seal as shown in the image. Previous version of the form is still valid if you filed before April 2012.

form i-797c before april 2012
form i-797c after april 2012

I-797D, Benefits Card

When you are sending important cards, such as work permits or green cards, you will get a letter from USCIS sent back to you regarding them. This notice simply states that you have in fact sent a benefits card, and there is a receipt from doing so.

I-797E, Request for Evidence

This subcategory of the form is known as a Request for Evidence. This means that your I-797 notice will ask for more evidence of the type of visa that is applied for. If you receive this letter, you will need to thoroughly read the letter, look at the visa document requirements, and submit what is needed.

If you fail to respond to this letter in the time frame that is stated, you will run into further issues. For starters, your case may be denied, due to the lack of responsibility on your part. However, if you follow the instructions on the I-797E notice of action and submit the needed documents, your application will continue as usual.

I-797F, Transportation Letter

In this subcategory of Form I-797, F is a transportation letter, which allows applicants outside of the United States, to travel. Generally, this type of notice is used to issue lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, who are outside of the U.S. to travel back to the country.

If you are a green card holder traveling abroad and have lost or had your green card stolen, you can receive the I-797f transportation letter. This letter will simply make it easier for you to travel back into the country and file the paperwork needed to replace your green card.

I-797 Notice of Action Address Changes

As if you haven’t already realized that the I-797 notice of action can be a communication for anything revolving around visa applications, we can now tell you that it can also work in an address change on official applications! This form will only be sent out to you if you request to change your address.

Online, you are able to request address changes, and if you do so, you will either receive approval or denial. In most cases, you will be able to change your address on applications. Because your address is imperative to show that you are lawfully residing in the United States, this form is important to keep track of.

Form I-797 Notice of Action Priority Date

If you are wondering what the I-797 notice of action priority date means, the answer is simple. The priority date is the date on which USCIS received your application. This date is vital to remember because this date will come up in future cases. Your priority date will be used to see where you are landed on the U.S. Department of States visa bulletin.

This date must be checked on regularly because when it’s finally your time, you can follow the next steps for consular processing or adjusting your status if you are in the process of getting a green card.

When Do I Get My I-797 Notice of Action?

Your notice of action’s timeline will vary based on the type of visa you applied for and the type of I-797 notice you receive. Because there are various categories you can receive, this will also affect the time in which you will receive your action.

Generally, throughout all cases, your notice will arrive in the mail anywhere from two to three weeks after your application and documents have been submitted.

Can I Travel With an I-797 Notice of Action?

Yes, if you receive an I-797F notice, you will be allowed to travel to the U.S. if you are overseas. Or, if you have another type of I-797 notice, you will be able to travel freely. However, it’s important to know that this isn’t a travel document; it simply states that you are allowed to travel while waiting for other legal documents to do so.

I-797 Processing Time

As stated in the previous sections above, the processing times for any type of I-797 notice will vary. Generally, the processing time will vary based on your case and the USCIS department that is taking care of it.

The pending time does vary, but in most cases, as soon as USCIS receives anything you send them, they will send out a notice. So, the USCIS I-797 processing time can take anywhere from one week from the day you sent the paperwork to three weeks after you’ve sent the paperwork.

What Should I Do if I Lose My I-797 Form?

We have made it very clear multiple times that this form is one that should be kept safe upon receiving it. If you receive one of these forms and misplace it, without having the receipt number saved, then you must be willing to go down the road to retrieval.

First, you should be prepared to make an additional appointment with USCIS and bring documents to validate your identity. This will be done so that they can legally pull up the necessary notices. At this appointment, you will ask for your receipt number, and they can check your status online.

If you wish, you can additionally request a duplicate approval notice. If you go down this route, you need to file Form I-824. This can only be filed if your visa application is still in process. This form cannot be filed after the fact, so it’s important that it’s done in a timely manner if you need a duplicate.

Or, in regards to the section above, a duplicate cannot be given out if your application or petition is pending or has been denied. Additionally, the duplicate approval notice that names any dependents or a spouse related to the visa application can be approved by immigration.

Can You Check Your Case Status Without Your I-797 Form?

So, this is a tricky question because as you know, keeping your I-797 form is imperative. But, if you do lose your form, and are able to get a replacement form and receipt number, you are able to check your status for each visa case online.

Now, on the USCIS website, you can input your receipt number, and check your status easily online. Additionally, checking your case status can be done via phone call to a USCIS office. However, the bottom line is, even though you can easily check your case statuses now, it’s important that you obtain a copy of your I-797 notice for future use.

What Happens After the I-797 Approval Notice?

Once all is said and done, and you have received some I-797 approval notices, you should know what your next options are. Generally, all you need to do is keep the approval notices in a safe spot. And like we have said previously, and in the section above, do not lose your notice or forget your receipt number.

This document can be used for proof in immigration cases or visa applications. Or, if a legal case occurs, this notice can sometimes be used for your benefit.

Form I-797 FAQs

Does Form I-797 Have an Expiration Date?

Yes, this form does actually have an expiration date that is different from your visa’s expiration date. This form has a PED, or petition expiration date, attached to it, that reflects how long the Form I-797 is valid for.

For some individuals, your I-797’s PED number will be the final date you are allowed to enter the U.S. before obtaining a new I-797 form. Whereas other dates could sometimes correlate with your visa stamp’s expiration date.

Can I Enter the U.S. With An I-797 Approval Notice?

This is a great question and one that is commonly asked. However, it’s a bit tricky. So, the surface-level answer to this question is no, you are unable to enter the U.S. solely using this form. But, you can use this notice of approval as proof of approval.

If you are questioned at the border, you should provide this form in order to let immigration know that you are in fact, approved to be in the country legally, if your Form I-797 is an approved application or petition notice.

Can I Book a Visa Appointment without My I-797 Form?

Yes, of course. You may schedule your visa interview appointment without receiving your notice of action form. However, you must have an original notice, or official copy of the notice, with you when attending your appointment.

Can I Work on an I-797 Approval Notice?

If you look at the bottom of your I-797 form, you will be able to see that it clearly states you are unable to use it for work authorization. And, you can’t even use this form for evidence for work authorization.

However, it can sometimes be used in cases where your work permit hasn’t been delivered yet, so presenting this receipt will give you a 90 days grace period before your work will need to see your work authorization and official approval.

Got More Questions About the I-797 Approval Notice?

We understand that this type of notice is confusing and used in multiple different situations. However, it’s also nice that USCIS has implemented ways that communication can be bridged between the officers and the applicant.

If you have submitted any sort of paperwork to USCIS, or are beginning your visa journey, Form I-797 should be a familiar notice. For more questions or any additional information requests, contact us today. At ImmigrationDirect, we want you to feel comfortable when it comes to the visa process.

This is why we have state-of-the-art immigration software so that every visa applicant can complete their application with ease. And, with error-checking technology, no forms will be submitted unless they are perfect and bound to be accepted. Don’t waste any more time today, we are here to help!

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