Exploring the I-797 Notice of Action Series: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding USCIS Receipt and Approval Notices for Applicants


Form I-797: What is it?

Form I-797 serves a pivotal role for both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants, acting as a communication tool to notify them when their application has either been received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or approved. This form, often referred to as a "receipt notice" or "approval notice," is one of the many documents utilized by USCIS, which also includes the identification of green cards as Form I-551. It's important to note that Form I-797, known as the Notice of Action, is not a form applicants fill out themselves. This guide will delve into the different categories of Form I-797, each designed to relay specific details about an applicant's USCIS benefits status.

Overview of Form I-797 Notice of Action

Form I-797, known as the Notice of Action, is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to individuals who have submitted an immigrant or non-immigrant visa application. This document serves two main purposes: it acknowledges the receipt of the application and communicates the decision made by the immigration officer regarding the application or petition. Retaining this document is crucial, as it might be required to demonstrate eligibility for various immigration-related benefits in the future.

Details on Form I-797A Notice of Action

Form I-797A, another variant of the Notice of Action, includes specific details about the applicant's arrival/departure record (Form I-94) when the original is not issued or available. This document is particularly relevant for non-citizens or non-permanent residents entering the U.S. It is often issued in scenarios such as an address change during the applicant's stay in the United States, effectively serving as a substitute for the I-94 form.

Understanding Form I-797B: Notice for Employment-Based Visas

For individuals applying for employment-based immigration visas, such as EB-2 or EB-2 NIW, the submission of Form I-140, known as the "Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers," is a crucial step. Upon approval of this petition, the applicant receives Form I-797B, Notice of Action. This specific notice confirms the approval of the I-140 petition but does not include an arrival/departure record (Form I-94), distinguishing it from other types of I-797 forms.

Clarifying Form I-797C: Notice of Various USCIS Actions

Form I-797C, Notice of Action, serves multiple purposes, informing applicants or petitioners of actions such as:

  1.  Application/petition receipt
  2.  Case transfer
  3.  Case reopening
  4.  Application/petition rejection 

Additionally, this form might detail scheduling for interviews, fingerprinting, or biometrics appointments. It's crucial to thoroughly review all information contained in Form I-797C since it often includes vital instructions and failure to comply with these could lead to significant delays in the processing of your case.

Notably, all Form I-797C notices issued after April 2, 2012, are printed on plain paper and bear the disclaimer, “THIS NOTICE DOES NOT GRANT ANY IMMIGRATION STATUS OR BENEFIT,” at the document's top. Despite this, the Form I-797C may still play a role in verifying eligibility for certain state and local benefits, underscoring the importance of retaining this document, even for notices issued before the specified date.

Accompanying Benefit Cards: Form I-797D

Form I-797D is utilized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when dispatching certain benefit cards, such as green cards or Employment Authorization Documents (work permits). This letter accompanies the physical card to provide additional information or instructions regarding the benefits granted.

Request for Additional Information: Form I-797E, Notice of Action

In instances where a USCIS officer requires further evidence to conclude the review of an application or petition, a Request for Evidence (RFE) will be issued. This request is communicated through Form I-797E, Notice of Action. Recipients of this letter must diligently gather and submit the requested documentation within the timeframe specified by USCIS to avoid delays or denials of their application. It's crucial to respond comprehensively to ensure a smooth continuation of the application process.

Issuance of I-797F, Transportation Letter for Overseas Travel

The I-797F, Transportation Letter, serves as a crucial document for applicants outside the United States, enabling them to travel back to the U.S. under specific circumstances. This is particularly relevant for green card holders who find themselves without their card due to it being lost, stolen, or destroyed while they are abroad. To obtain a transportation letter, these individuals must submit Form I-131A, known as the “Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation).” According to the guidelines for Form I-131A, the transportation letter facilitates the process of boarding an aircraft; however, it does not assure entry into the United States, as this decision rests with the discretion of the officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It's important to understand that the I-797F Transportation Letter is not a substitute for a green card, and upon returning to the U.S., permanent residents are required to initiate the process of applying for a green card replacement through the standard procedures.

Last Updated 06/05/24 12:06:21AM

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