What Does the USCIS Case Status “Case Approved” Mean for My Form I-539: Application To Change or Extend Nonimmigrant Status?

In a Nutshell

If your USCIS case status says “Case Was Approved,” congratulations! This means USCIS has reviewed your application, determined your eligibility, and decided to grant your Form I-539 application. You’ll often see several statuses prior to approval as your case progresses, and it can take a long time for USCIS to process and approve your application. It takes an average of 4-10 months for USCIS to process and approve Form I-539 requests. This article explains the case approval process with USCIS and what happens after your case is approved.

Written by Paige Hooper
Written January 6, 2023

My USCIS Case Status Says, “Case Approved.” What Does That Mean for My Form I-539 Application?

“Case Approved” is one of the most exciting USCIS status updates you’ll see during your Form I-539 application process. This case status means USCIS approved your request to extend your visa length or change your visa status. If you applied to extend your stay, this means you can continue to stay in the United States on your current visa. If you applied to change your nonimmigrant visa status — for example, from a study visa to an employment visa — you can move forward with your plans, such as starting a new job or enrolling in school. 

When USCIS approves your Form I-539 application, it will update your case status in your USCIS account to “Case Was Approved.” You’ll also receive a Form I-797: Notice of Action in the mail. This is your official approval notice. An “Approved” status means USCIS has finished processing your I-539 application, but this won’t be your final status update. You’ll continue to get status updates when USCIS issues and mails your updated visa.

When Might I See a “Case Approved” Status?

Approval is one of the last steps in the application process, so don’t expect to see this status right away after submitting your application. You can expect to see several status updates before your application is approved. Below are some common USCIS case statuses:

  • Received: The first case status you usually see is “Case Was Received.” This means USCIS has received your application and is mailing you a receipt notice. If you submitted your application to a lockbox, your status may say “Case Accepted By the USCIS Lockbox” instead.

  • Evidence Request: If your case status says “Request for Additional Evidence Sent,” USCIS needs something from you before it can finish processing your application. You’ll get a notice in the mail with more instructions. 

  • Expedite Request: If you’ve filed a request to expedite your case, the status “Expedite Request Received” lets you know USCIS has your request.

  • Fingerprints/Biometrics: USCIS may need to schedule a biometrics appointment to get your fingerprints or other biometric data if you haven’t already provided it. You may see status updates related to this appointment, such as “Fingerprint and Biometrics Appointment Was Scheduled” or “Case Was Updated To Show Fingerprints Were Taken.”

  • Interview: USCIS may need to interview you before it can approve your Form I-539 application. You may see status updates related to the interview, such as “Case is Ready to Be Scheduled for An Interview,” “Interview Was Scheduled,” or “Interview Was Completed And My Case Must Be Reviewed.”

  • Appeal: If USCIS denied your application and you appeal the denial, your case status might say “Case Was Reopened for Consideration.” This situation is somewhat rare. For an appeal, you’ll usually be working with a lawyer.

Does “Case Approved” Mean the Same Thing as “Case Received”?

It’s easy to mix these two up, but “case approved” does not mean the same as “case received.” You’ll probably see “Case Was Received” at the beginning of the process when USCIS receives your application and is preparing to review it. If you submitted your Form I-539 application to a lockbox, though, your initial status might say “Case Accepted By the USCIS Lockbox.” “Accepted” means the same thing as “received” for USCIS purposes. It does not mean the same thing as “approved.”

By contrast, you’ll only see the word “Approved” in your case status when you’re nearing the end of the application process. “Approved” means USCIS has finished reviewing your Form I-539 application and has decided to grant your request to extend or change your status.

USCIS Approved My Form I-539 Application. Now What?

After you receive your official USCIS notice of approval (Form I-797) in the mail, you usually just need to wait to receive your updated visa. USCIS typically mails these out within about 3-14 days after mailing your approval notice. When your new visa has been mailed, USCIS will post the USPS tracking number for your card to your USCIS account.

The only way to receive your updated visa is by mail, so be sure USCIS has your correct mailing address on file. If your new visa is lost or is delivered to the wrong address, you can contact USCIS to try to fix the problem.

If you move while your application is in process, you must update your address with USCIS. Filing a change of address or mail forwarding form with the USPS doesn’t update your address in the USCIS system. If you see one of the following as your case status, that’s a warning that USCIS might not have your current address:

  • Card Is Being Returned to USCIS by Post Office

  • Card Was Determined As Undeliverable By The Post Office

  • Card (or Document) Was Returned to USCIS

How Can I Track USCIS Case Status Changes?

USCIS has approved your request to change your status or extend your stay, so congratulations! But don’t celebrate too much yet. You still need to keep an eye on your case status until you’ve received your updated visa. Some status updates you may see after your case is approved include:

  • New Card Is Producing

  • Card Was Mailed To Me

  • Card Was Picked Up By The United States Postal Service

  • Card Was Delivered To Me By The Post Office

Staying aware of your status changes lets you act right away if there’s a problem. You can monitor your case status through your USCIS account. You can also check your status online with the USCIS case tracking tool using your 13-digit receipt number. USCIS will continue to send notice of status updates by mail as well.

Do I Need an Immigration Attorney To Get My Form I-539 Application Approved?

USCIS has approved your request to change or extend your nonimmigrant status, so you probably don’t need to hire a lawyer at this point. If your application is taking much longer than the usual processing times, try contacting USCIS to see if they can resolve the delay. If that doesn’t work, an experienced lawyer may be able to help.