What Your Form I-797 Notice of Action Letter Means

What Your Form I-797 Notice of Action Letter Means

Any message you receive from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be labeled as a Form I-797. Form I-797 plays a variety of roles, meaning that there are different types of the I-797 form. Whenever USCIS sends you a message, make sure you keep the Form I-797 in a safe and secure place, as this is how USCIS communicates with you.

What Is Form I-797?

USCIS Form I-797 is a form sent to communicate a message to you. You may also hear the form referred to as a Form I-797 Notice of Action. Because a Form I-797 is sent whenever USCIS communicates with you, there are several different versions of the form for different kinds of communication:

  • Form I-797, Notice of Action for Receipt or Approval
  • From I-797A, Notice of Action for Replacement of I-94
  • Form I-797B, Notice of Action for Noncitizen Worker Petition
  • Form I-797C, Notice of Action for Various Receipts and Calls to Action
  • Form I-797D, Accompanies Benefit Cards
  • Form I-797E, Notice of Action to Request Evidence
  • Form I-797F, Transportation Letter for Overseas Travel

It is extremely important to review every document you are given by USCIS. The forms often provide instructions on the next steps you will need to take in your immigration process. If you must give additional information, USCIS will also state this in Form I-797.

What Is a Notice of Action Letter and Do I Fill it Out?

Take note that even though the name says “form,” you do not actually fill anything out. A Form I-797 Notice of Action is simply that—a notice of action that USCIS takes to inform you about decisions made in your immigration case(s).

I-797 Notice of Action Address Change

If you ever move, make sure you inform USCIS of your new mailing address as soon as possible. Because of the instructions given in Form I-797, it’s imperative to get the forms as soon as USCIS sends them. Always update your mailing address so you can stay on top of each step in your immigration process.

To alert USCIS of your address change, you will submit Form AR-11 to USCIS itself. Or, if you have a USCIS online account, you can update you address manually online.

Form I-797 Notice of Action Priority Date

Your priority date is the date on which USCIS received your application. This is one of the most crucial dates to remember, so prioritize this document and the date itself.

You will use your priority date to see where you land on the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. When your final action date matches your priority date, you are of current standing and are allowed to pursue next steps, such as adjusting your status or starting consular processing.

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

It usually takes two to three weeks to receive your Form I-797 after you submit your application.

Types of Form I-797s

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

Form I-797 is the simplest of the various I-797 forms. When your Form I-797 does not have a letter attached, this is your most basic notice of action letter, also known as your “I-797 approval notice green card” or simply your I-797 approval notice for your individual visa.

Your Form I-797 is what you receive when USCIS approves an application or petition.

What Happens After I-797 Approval Notice?

Keep your Form I-797 Notice of Action as proof that USCIS approved your application or petition. As your application or petition receipt, Form I-797 is an important document that you can use later as proof for immigration benefits or as evidence should a legal case occur.

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

Form I-94 is your arrival/departure record that is used whenever you are entering or exiting the United States. The form also shows your visa’s expiration date. USCIS will send you Form I-797A as a replacement Form I-94. This is usually because you have changed your address. This form is proof that your presence in the United States is legal up-to-the-date located on the bottom of Form I-797A.

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

If you are a noncitizen wishing to work in the United States and have filed your petition, you will be issued a Form I-797B. Form I-797B states your approval for your worker petition.

Note that your Form I-797B does not include a Form I-94. You may have to return home if you want an extension on your work visa. Your Form I-94 not being included with your I-797B form is particularly important if you are approved to work in the U.S. when you are, in fact, already working there.

You also need to make sure your extension of stay is approved. Speak with your immigration attorney and review all information in your I-797B form to make sure you understand your work approval.

Form I-797C, Notice of Action for Various Receipts and Calls to Action

Form I-797C Notice of Action is sent to you from USCIS to inform you of an application/petition, including notice of:

  • An interview appointment
  • A biometrics appointment
  • A rescheduling appointment
  • A receipt
  • A transfer
  • A re-opened case
  • A rejection

Your I-797C Notice of Action letter will have a receipt number that you use to check your case status. No matter what the reason for your Form I-797C Notice of Action, the letter itself proves that you have sent in your application or petition.

Remember, this is not approval; it is merely a receipt and call to action. USCIS may send you this to show they accept your application, not to say they have approved your application.

Appointment notices will be sent when any type of appointment is required to move on to the next steps in your application process. This Form I-797C Notice of Action letter tells you when to go to your appointments.

Receipt notices confirm that USCIS received your application or petition and your filing fees. It includes your receipt number. Hold on tight to this to track your case.

A transfer notice may be sent to you in the form of Form I-797C if your case was given to another office because of processing times.

Re-opened cases happen when USCIS re-opens a previously-denied case. You will be informed that your case is being re-opened and is being processed.

If you receive an I-797C Notice of Action letter for a rejection notice, then USCIS did not accept your application or petition because of:

  • Incomplete information
  • Incorrect information
  • Incorrect payment

That is why it is beneficial to have an immigration attorney help you and review your application or petition. If any information is missing or wrong, USCIS will reject your application.

Unfortunately, many people are rejected for not signing at the end of their application. A second set of eyes from an experienced attorney can help you in your immigration application process.

What Is the Next Step After Receiving I-797C?

Carefully read your Form I-797C Notice of Action. Depending on which notice of action USCIS sends you, you must follow the instructions in your notice of action letter. It will be beneficial to talk with your immigration attorney about what your instructions mean if you are at all confused about your specific I-797C Notice of Action.

Form I-797D, Accompanies Benefit Cards

This version of Form I-797 is not a notice of action. Rather, it is a letter that comes with benefits. When you are given your permanent resident card or work permit, you will also receive a Form I-797D. The form will outline the benefits that come with the card you are receiving.

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

Form I-797E is also known as a Request for Evidence (RFE). USCIS may need you to send in additional documents or supporting evidence for your application or petition.

USCIS will let you know what they need from you in the Form I-797E Notice of Action letter. You must submit the requested and required evidence as soon as possible. If you do not, you risk a delay, at best, or even a denial.

Getting an RFE can be avoided by having your immigration attorney review your application or petition. It’s important to submit all necessary documents to USCIS, and is best to do so the first time around.

However, if you do receive an RFE, working with your attorney is also good to make sure the documents you need to submit are filled out correctly and in full. It can be easy to submit the wrong or incomplete documents, or even miss evidence altogether. Avoid doing so by working with an experienced immigration attorney.

Form I-7997F, Transportation Letter for Overseas Travel

If you are applying or petitioning from a country outside of the United States, you will be issued Form I-797F. Similar to Form I-797D, Form I-797F is not a notice of action. The form is a letter that allows you to travel overseas to the United States.

Usually, green card holders (lawful permanent residents) are issued Form I-797F if they have had their green card:

  • Lost
  • Stolen
  • Mutilated

Can I Travel With I-797 Notice of Action?

Yes, your I-797F allows you to travel to the U.S. if you are overseas. USCIS will send the form to your overseas address so that you may travel (back) to the United States.

I-797F recipients are usually lawful permanent residents who have traveled outside of the U.S. and have had their physical green card compromised (lost, stolen, mutilated) while abroad. You can file Form I-131A to apply for a travel document.

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

The experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. can help you at any point on your immigration journey. If you have questions—like what is a notice of action letter, what is Form I-797C and what does it mean, or what does my notice of action letter mean—come talk to us!

We understand the importance of communicating with USCIS and want your immigration journey to proceed as smoothly as possible. Contact us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online contact form today. We look forward to working with you!

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