Work and Employment

i797: Everything You Need to Know

Form I-797, Notice of Action, is a form sent to those who have recently filed a US visa application. This letter confirms that the government has received your application or has made a decision to approve your application.

Chelsea Spinos, Writer
Simon Craven, Manifest Immigration Lawyer

By:

Chelsea Spinos

Chelsea Spinos is a contributing writer for Manifest Law. She covers all topics related to U.S. visas and green cards. She is passionate about helping people navigate their immigration journey with clarity and confidence.

Reviewer:

Simon Craven, Esq.

Simon Craven is an immigration attorney with 11+ years of experience working on thousands of successful immigration cases. Simon is passionate about US immigration and helping people.

8 min read • May 03, 2024

Form I-797
Form I-797
Form I-797

Key takeaways

The main purpose for Form I-797 is to communicate important updates to applicants, petitioners, or beneficiaries.

You can check i797 status on the USCIS website by using the receipt number provided on the form.

i797A acts as temporary evidence of your immigration status and might grant you permission to travel.

The expiration date on i797 is a deadline for how long you can use the immigration benefits given to you by USCIS.

Letter from USCIS with American flag in background
Letter from USCIS with American flag in background
Letter from USCIS with American flag in background

Why would you receive a Form I-797?

Why would you receive a Form I-797?

Once you move through the immigration process, you'll receive a Form I-797 to keep you informed about important updates and actions related to your case.


Here's a breakdown of the reasons why you might get Form I-797 sent to you from USCIS:


  • Receipt of Application: When USCIS receives your immigration application, they'll send you a Form I-797 as confirmation. This form serves as validation that your application has been officially received and is being processed.

  • Approval of Petition or Application: If USCIS approves your petition or application, they'll send you an I-797 to let you know. This form signifies that you've been granted the immigration benefits you applied for, whether it's a visa, green card, or employment authorization.

  • Request for Biometrics or Interview: If you're required to provide biometric data or attend an interview as part of your application process, you'll receive a Form I-797 with the details.

  • Employment Authorization or Travel Documents: If you're allowed to work or travel while your immigration case is still pending, you'll receive an I-797 as confirmation. Form I-797 serves as proof of your authorized status.

  • Change in Processing Location: In some instances, USCIS may transfer your case to a different service center for processing. Form I-797 will inform you of where your case is being handled and if there is any impact on the processing time.

  • Reopening or Reconsideration of Case: If your case needs further review or reconsideration, USCIS may issue a Form I-797. This document will give you more insight about why your case is being reopened or reconsidered, and will provide you with details on next steps.

Binder on desk with "Immigration Law"
Binder on desk with "Immigration Law"
Binder on desk with "Immigration Law"

What is Form I-797?

What is Form I-797?

Form I-797, Notice of Action, is sent to recent applicants for immigrant or non-immigrant status. It serves to confirm receipt of your application, approval of your petition, or to notify you of appointments for interviews or biometric services scheduled by USCIS.


The main purpose for Form I-797 is to communicate important information to applicants, petitioners, or beneficiaries. There are a few different types of Form I-797, which we will go into more detail below.

Form I-797A

Form I-797B

Form I-797C

Form I-797D

Form I-797E

Form I-797F,
Transportation Letter

This notice gives you a heads up if you need to be physically present for an interview or biometric services.

This notice is sent to you if you are eligible for employment authorization or travel documents.

This form is used for different types of communication, like receipt notices, rejections, transfer notifications, and appointment scheduling.

This form is given to you if your application needs further review or reconsideration

This form tells you if your case's processing location has changed.

This form serves as temporary proof of your status while you wait for your physical green card.

ℹ️ What is Form I-797? Form I-797 is sent to US visa applicants to inform them that their application was received or approved. i797 is also called a “receipt notice” or “approval notice.”

Form I-797, Explained

Form I-797, Explained

Take a look at the following video where immigration attorney Simon Craven walks you through Form I-797. In the video, he explains how to understand Form I-797 and find important information like your receipt number, I-94 number, and expiration date.

If you have been asked to assess the work of other people in your field, this might help you qualify for one of the O1 visa criteria. Judging can be in a competitive setting, such as a contest, awards panel, or grants committee. Or, it can be an evaluation of someone’s work, like a scientific paper or presentation, or even a grant application.


The key here is that some organization thought you were the go-to person with ample expertise to assess the work of others. This shows USCIS that you are seen as someone who stands out from others in your work.


If you think you can meet the “judge of others” criteria and at least two other criteria on the list of O1 visa evidence, you could be ready to apply! Reach out to Manifest Law and we can help you put your best case forward.

Take a look at the following video where immigration attorney Simon Craven walks you through Form I-797. In the video, he explains how to understand Form I-797 and find important information like your receipt number, I-94 number, and expiration date.

Form I-797A

Form I-797A

Form I-797A serves a dual purpose: while it mainly is used to confirm the approval of immigration benefits, it can serve as a replacement for Form I-94, which is your arrival/departure record.


One of the main reasons you might receive Form I-797A is due to an address change. This form acts as official approval for your updated address and indicates that you're legally permitted to remain in the U.S. until the date specified on the I-94 section of the form.


In cases where you need to show your legal presence in the country or your right to work – especially if your Form I-94 isn't available or valid – USCIS might issue Form I-797A instead.


This document can also serve as your proof of legal status or work authorization, which can be essential for securing employment or applying for benefits.

Woman worker in warehouse
Woman worker in warehouse
Woman worker in warehouse

Form I-797B

Form I-797B

Form I-797B is mainly used for approving worker petitions. But unlike some other types of Form I-797, it doesn't come with an I-94 record, which tracks entries and exits from the U.S. So, if you're already in the U.S. or applying from abroad, you'll get this form.


Now, if you're outside the U.S. and get Form I-797B, you'll need to head back to your home country for a visa stamping before you can come back. It's a necessary step before you can officially enter the U.S. again.


Unlike Form I-797A, getting Form I-797B doesn't automatically mean you're approved for any immigration benefits. It's more like a confirmation that USCIS has received your application and is processing it.


Sometimes, you'll see Form I-797B along with other papers from USCIS. It might be confirming that you paid your fees or sent in some documents, just to keep you in the loop about what's happening with your case.

Form I-797C, Notice of Action
Form I-797C, Notice of Action
Form I-797C, Notice of Action

Form I-797C

Form I-797C

Form I-797C is used to provide essential updates and information regarding different types of notices, such as:


  • Receipt Notice: When you submit your visa application or petition, USCIS sends you a receipt notice to confirm they've received it and that your fees are paid.

  • Rejection Notice: Sometimes, if there's something missing or wrong with your visa application, USCIS might send a rejection notice. Form I-797C will detail what you need to fix. whether that be related to the information provided, or your payment.

  • Transfer Notice: If your case gets moved to another USCIS office for processing, you'll get a transfer notice.

  • Re-open Cases: If USCIS decides to take another look at your case that may have previously been denied, they'll send a notice of reopening.

  • Appointment Notice: If you need to attend a biometric appointment or interview, USCIS will send you an appointment notice with all the details, so you know exactly where to be and when.


If you receive Form I-797C, you will also get a unique receipt number that can be used to track the status of your application or petition online. You can check your status on the USCIS website here.


Form I-797C will look like this:

Form I-797C, Notice of Action
Form I-797C, Notice of Action
Form I-797C, Notice of Action

💡 Manifest Tip: When you get a Form I-797C in the mail, make sure to read it carefully. Missing any required actions could cause delays in your case! What is Form I-797? Form I-797 is sent to US visa applicants to inform them that their application was received or approved. Sometimes i797 form is called a “receipt notice” or “approval notice.”

Man and woman looking at paper together, smiling
Man and woman looking at paper together, smiling
Man and woman looking at paper together, smiling

Form I-797D

Form I-797D

Form I-797D is a notification letter confirming that you have been approved for, and have received your green card or work permit.

If you receive Form I-797D, it's important to note that you don't need to take any additional action! This form simply serves as a notification and is sent along with your benefit card, which gives official confirmation of your approved immigration status or work authorization.

USCIS document
USCIS document
USCIS document

Form I-797E

Form I-797E

Form I-797E is commonly referred to as a Request for Evidence (RFE). This letter is sent when USCIS requires additional documentation for a petition that you've submitted. Form I-797E will tell you exactly what documents or details they need and when they need them.


It's crucial to pay close attention to the instructions on the notice and send in the requested evidence within the timeframe mentioned on Form I-797E. Missing this deadline could slow down your application process or even lead to a denial. So, gather up those required documents and get them sent promptly!


If you receive Form I-797E, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide on RFEs. It's packed with detailed info about RFEs and how to respond, including expert tips from immigration lawyers.

Confused woman reading a paper
Confused woman reading a paper
Confused woman reading a paper

Form I-797F

Form I-797F

Form I-797F is a transportation letter that is specially issued to lawful permanent residents (aka green card holders) who find themselves outside the U.S. without their green card due to loss, theft, or damage.


If you're a green card holder facing the unfortunate situation of being abroad without your green card, there's a solution! By filing Form I-131A, the Application for Travel Document, you can request Form I-797F (a transportation letter) from USCIS. This document serves as your travel documentation.

Note: While having a transportation letter is essential for travel, it's important to note that it doesn't guarantee entry into the United States. Upon arrival, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will conduct standard inspection procedures, considering immigration laws and regulations.

USCIS website
USCIS website
USCIS website

How to Check I-797 Form Status

How to Check I-797 Form Status

To check the status of your Form I-797, you'll typically use the receipt number provided on the form.


Here are the steps to follow to check I-797 Form status:


Step 1: Find Your Receipt Number

Find the receipt number provided on your Form I-797. Your receipt number is typically located at the top right corner of the document, near the USCIS logo. It consists of 13 characters, including a combination of numbers and letters.

Form I-797, Notice of Action
Form I-797, Notice of Action
Form I-797, Notice of Action

Step 2: Visit the USCIS Website

Go to the USCIS Case Status Online page and enter your receipt number.


Step 3: Click on "Check Status" or "Submit" button.


Step 4: Review Your Case Status

The USCIS website will display the current status of your case based on the information provided by USCIS, such as "Received," "In Process," "Approved," or "Request for Evidence (RFE) Sent."

How long does it take to receive Form I-797?

How long does it take to receive Form I-797?

Depends! There are a variety of factors that can affect the timeline for receiving Form I-797.


Firstly, the type of application plays a big role in determining how long it takes to receive Form I-797. Some applications require more extensive review than others, like green cards or visa types that require PERM.


USCIS processing times also influence when Form I-797 will be received. USCIS updates these times regularly based on how many applications they're handling. If they're busy, it could mean a longer wait for your Form I-797, but if things are moving quickly, you might get it sooner.


Then, there's the completeness of your application. If you've filled everything out correctly and included all the necessary documents, it'll speed up the process. But if there are mistakes or missing information, there may be a delay in receiving Form I-797.


The number of applications USCIS is dealing with also matters. If there's a lot of applications, it can create a backlog and cause delays in processing, which means you'll have to wait longer for your Form I-797.


Additionally, the type of Form I-797 being issued can influence the timeline for its receipt. Some types of Form I-797, such as approval notices or requests for evidence, may be processed more quickly than others, such as notices of intent to deny or notices of reopening.

Woman in airport holding travel documents and backpack
Woman in airport holding travel documents and backpack
Woman in airport holding travel documents and backpack

Can I travel with Form I-797?

Can I travel with Form I-797?

Whether you can travel with Form I-797 depends on the specific type you've received and its purpose.


If you have an Approval Notice (Form I-797A), this can generally serve as temporary proof of your immigration status and may give you travel authorization. However, it's essential to check the validity period and any conditions mentioned on the form before traveling.


If you have a Receipt Notice (Form I-797C) usually this doesn’t grant travel authorization on its own. Form I-797C is more about confirming that USCIS has received your application or petition and is processing it. So, if you received a Form I-797C, it's best to hold off on making travel plans until you've received further instructions or documents.


As for other types of Form I-797, such as I-797B, I-797D, I-797E, and I-797F, they typically don't authorize travel. These forms serve different purposes, such as requests for evidence or notifications of action, but they're not meant for travel authorization.


If you're unsure about whether you can travel with your Form I-797, reach out to us at Manifest Law. Our team of immigration lawyers can provide you with personalized advice based on your situation.

Hourglass on desk where man is working on laptop
Hourglass on desk where man is working on laptop
Hourglass on desk where man is working on laptop

What does the expiration date on Form I-797 mean?

What does the expiration date on Form I-797 mean?

The expiration date on Form I-797 is essentially a deadline for the validity of the immigration benefits granted by USCIS. Once this date passes, the benefits outlined on Form I-797 may no longer be valid.

💡 Manifest Tip: Make sure you keep note of the expiration date and handle any further actions, like renewal or extension, before it's up. This ensures you can keep your immigration status or authorization. If you miss the deadline, you could lose your benefits or face other immigration problems.

Woman looking through cabinets for file
Woman looking through cabinets for file
Woman looking through cabinets for file

What if I lost my Form I-797?

What if I lost my Form I-797?

Losing your Form I-797 can be stressful, but don’t worry – there are steps you can take.


The first thing to do is notify USCIS as soon as possible. You can reach out to USCIS by calling their customer service number, or by filing Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition). This form allows you to formally request USCIS to take action on your lost or damaged document.

💡 Manifest Tip: While waiting for your replacement Form I-797, we recommend keeping copies of any other relevant documents related to your immigration status, as they may be needed while you wait.

Conclusion

Conclusion

In summary, Form I-797 helps you stay informed about your immigration case with USCIS. Whether you're awaiting confirmation, petition approval, or interview scheduling, it keeps you updated.


If you still have questions about Form I-797 or need extra help with your visa application or green card, our team at Manifest Law is here for you. We're dedicated to making the immigration process easier for you, so don't hesitate to reach out. We'll provide expert guidance that's personalized to your specific situation.

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Avi Goldenberg

Principal attorney at Manifest Law

Take the First Step:

Schedule your free consultation!

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Review of visa options available for you

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General information about timelines, fees, requirements for various visa options

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Information on Manifest fees, terms and process

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Full clarity and transparency every step along the way

Picture of Avi Goldenburg, principal attorney at Manifest law, smiling in eye glasses and a blue button up shirt in his office.

Avi Goldenberg

Principal attorney at Manifest Law

Take the First Step:

Schedule your free consultation!

Check mark in a circle icon

Review of visa options available for you

Check mark in a circle icon

General information about timelines, fees, requirements for various visa options

Check mark in a circle icon

Information on Manifest fees, terms and process

Check mark in a circle icon

Full clarity and transparency every step along the way

Picture of Avi Goldenburg, principal attorney at Manifest law, smiling in eye glasses and a blue button up shirt in his office.

Avi Goldenberg

Principal attorney at Manifest Law

Attorney Advertising. This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a licensed attorney. Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice, and only after considering your specific facts and circumstances. You should not act on any information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. manifestlaw.com is a product of Manifest Law PLLC. Manifest Law PLLC is a law firm operating as a New York Professional Corporation. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

2024 Manifest Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

Attorney Advertising. This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a licensed attorney. Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice, and only after considering your specific facts and circumstances. You should not act on any information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. manifestlaw.com is a product of Manifest Law PLLC. Manifest Law PLLC is a law firm operating as a New York Professional Corporation. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

2024 Manifest Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

Attorney Advertising. This website is intended for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a licensed attorney. Only an attorney can provide you with legal advice, and only after considering your specific facts and circumstances. You should not act on any information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. manifestlaw.com is a product of Manifest Law PLLC. Manifest Law PLLC is a law firm operating as a New York Professional Corporation. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

2024 Manifest Copyright. All Rights Reserved.