The Form I-797 is a document the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses to communicate with applicants. When you submit any USCIS application, you will receive an I-797, also known as a receipt letter, once they have received your application. You should expect to receive it about 2-3 weeks after you submit your application.
The Form I-797 serves many purposes. It can be a receipt notifying you that your application has been approved. It can also be a request for additional evidence. It can also be a notice of the time and date of a scheduled appointment. There are 7 specific I-797 forms. The sections below will explain both the standard I-797 and the other 6 forms.
1. Form I-797 – Notice of Action (Standard Notice)
This I-797 form is simply a receipt informing you that your application or petition has been approved. Note that this is just the receipt, not the official document. You, therefore, cannot use this to travel, get a job, etc.
However, the form is still very useful. It gives you information about your application, including your receipt number. Your receipt number is a 13-digit-long code you can use to track your case online. Simply use this USCIS Case Status Checker. If you lose your receipt number, you can schedule an InfoPass appointment where you’ll meet with a USCIS officer who can provide you with information about your case. Make sure to bring valid identification to the appointment.
Make sure to keep a copy of all I-797 forms for your personal records. They can commonly be used as evidence for other USCIS forms you may fill out.
2. Form I-797A – Notice of Action – (Replacement for an I-94 Form)
Form I-797A contains all of the same information as the regular I-797 form, but it is sent as a replacement for an Form I-94. However, the bottom of the form will function as the official document. The body of the document will also have additional guidelines. Form I-94, or the Arrival-Departure Record, is given to foreign nationals when they come to United States. This form includes the date of admission, the class of admission, and the date to which they are admitted to stay.
To increase efficiency, reduce operating costs and streamline the admissions process, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated the I-94 Form. The paper document is only given in limited circumstances. If you need a copy of your Form I-94, you may request it here.
3. Form I-797B, Notice of Action – (I-140, Petition for Alien Worker)
Form I-797B is issued when the applicant submits Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The body of the document will include instructions. The bottom section will include important information for admission to the U.S. Depending on the applicant’s circumstance, Like all I-797 forms, this form will include details about your application.
4. Form I-797C, Notice of Action – (Important Information)
This is perhaps the most common I-797 form. It is very important that you read this document carefully. In addition to the regular information, the Form I-797C will inform the applicant of a rejection, transfer, re-opening, or scheduled/re-scheduled appointment. Typical appointments include a biometrics appointment or an interview with a USCIS officer. This form usually tells you the next step in your application process.
If you receive a Form I-797C, pay close attention to what it says. Ignoring or misreading the instructions can delay your case.
5. Form I-797D, Notice of Action – (Includes a Benefit Card)
The Form I-797D will generally include a benefit card. This could be a green card or another official document. Like the regular I-797 form, you will not need to do anything with this form. However, it is still important to keep a copy for your personal records.
6. Form I-797E, Notice of Action – (Request for Evidence)
Many USCIS forms require additional evidence. They are called a Request for Evidence (RFE). If the USCIS does not receive all the required evidence in an application, they will send the form I-797E. In this form, they will explain the issues with the evidence already provided or simply state that no evidence was included. If you receive this form, make sure to read it carefully! The Form I-797E will often include a time limit and specific instructions. If you never respond to a request for evidence, your application will most likely be denied.
Note: Only submit photocopies of official documents because the USCIS will destroy all evidence after the case is closed.
7. Form I-797F, Transportation Letter – (Travel Permit)
This is the only I-797 form that is not a “Notice of Action.” This document allows overseas applicants to travel. If you receive Form I-797F, simply follow the guidelines provided in the document.