What Is USCIS Form I-797: Notice of Action?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-797: Notice of Action serves several purposes. If you file an application with USCIS, the agency will send you Form I-797: Notice of Action to inform you that it has received your application. This is often called a receipt notice. It’s also commonly used as a way to communicate that USCIS has approved your immigrant or nonimmigrant application. While these are common uses of Form I-797, USCIS also uses Form I-797 to notify you of case status changes. These notices have a letter at the end of the form name, such as Form I-797C, and each form provides information regarding the status of your application. In this article, we explain each of the uses of Form I-797.
Written by Jonathan Petts. Legally reviewed by ImmigrationHelp Team
Written February 23, 2023
What Is USCIS Form I-797?
Form I-797: Notice of Action is a form sent from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that notifies you of your application case status. There are seven types of I-797 forms, so it is important to pay attention to which form you get. If the form you receive is titled Form I-797 followed by a letter, such as I-797A, this means your form includes other information or a case status update. I-797 forms are often meant simply to be informative, but sometimes they signal that you need to take action.
Form I-797, Explained
If you receive a form titled Form I-797 with no extra letters, this is telling you that USCIS has received or approved your application. USCIS sends this form to immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications. Form I-797 is more commonly known as a notice of action. It can also be called a receipt notice or approval notice.
It is important to keep all communication (letters, emails, etc.) from USCIS, but it is especially important to keep track of Form I-797. This form has your receipt number, which is used to track your case status with USCIS.
Form I-797A, Explained
If you receive Form I-797A, you are getting a replacement for Form I-94: Arrival/Departure Record. Form I-94 is a travel record. The U.S. government uses it to track non-U.S. citizens as they enter and leave the U.S. You can also use Form I-94 to prove that you have not overstayed your visa and that you entered the U.S. lawfully. It may be needed for situations like applying for a driver’s license.
Some people are exempt from needing Form I-94. If you need to check your eligibility, read our Form I-94 Guide to learn more.
Form I-797B, Explained
Form I-797B is an approval notice for Form I-140: Immigrant Worker Petition. This confirms your eligibility for an employment-based immigration visa. This means you are qualified to apply for an employment-based green card.
Unlike Form I-797A, Form I-797B does not contain the record of departures or arrivals to or from the U.S. because it is sent to individuals who are either already living in the U.S. or applying from their home country.
Form I-797C, Explained
Form I-797C notifies you of a change or update in your case status for the application you submitted to USCIS. Your I-797C form will tell you if your application has been received, rejected, transferred, or reopened. This is often good news as it usually means your case is moving along. But sometimes it notifies you that USCIS needs you to take action or provide more information. For example, it may contain information or updates about pending appointments like your biometrics appointment (sometimes called a fingerprinting appointment) or your green card interview.
It is important that you read your Form I-797C carefully because it will have detailed instructions on any action(s) you may need to take.
Form I-797D, Explained
Form I-797D simply serves as a notification that you have been approved for and received your green card (permanent resident card) or work permit. If you receive Form I-797D, you don’t need to take any action. This form is simply sent along with your benefit card.
Form I-797E, Explained
Form I-797E is a request for evidence (RFE). USCIS will send this form if it needs more information to determine your eligibility for an immigration benefit you applied for. If you receive a request for evidence, it is important to gather and submit the evidence outlined in the notice as soon as possible. This will ensure you avoid unnecessary delays in the application process.
If you want more information about RFEs and how to respond to them, read our RFE Guide.
Form I-797F, Explained
If you file Form I-131A: Application for Travel Document from overseas, and USCIS approves your form, you will receive Form I-797F. This is also known as a transportation letter. Receiving Form I-797F allows you to travel. When you do so, you will use your I-797F as your travel documentation.
If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and your green card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed, you qualify to file Form I-131A. If you are not an LPR but were issued Advance Parole or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with travel endorsement and the forms were lost, stolen, or destroyed, you also qualify to file Form I-131A. It is important to know that even with a transportation letter, you are not guaranteed entrance into the U.S. You will undergo inspection procedures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and they will determine if you are able to enter the U.S.
Form I-797 serves several purposes. Most commonly, it is a notice of action explaining USCIS has received your application for an immigration benefit. It may also communicate important updates about your immigration status. There are also several other types of I-797 forms that USCIS sends to provide information about your immigrant petition. Be sure to keep all important documents from USCIS in a safe and secure place, especially any I-797 form that you receive. This will help you to avoid delays in your application process.
If you can’t figure out what your Form I-797 is telling you — especially if it is a request for action — and you want some extra help, you can sign up for our Ask an Attorney Program. For $24/month, you can get your questions answered by an independent immigration attorney.