COMPLETE guide to Form I-797 in the U.S. [2023] (2024)

Posted by Frank Gogol in Immigrants | Updated on June 7, 2023

At a Glance: Form I-797, Notice of Action, is a form sent by USCIS to inform individuals about their application status. It serves multiple purposes, such as approval, requesting additional evidence, scheduling appointments, or providing important information. Different types of Form I-797 exist, including standard notices, replacements for I-94 forms, I-140 petitions, request for evidence, travel permits, and more. Form I-797 is not a visa and cannot be used as a substitute. It is a receipt that confirms the submission of an application and may grant certain immigration benefits once approved.

Back in 2018, 28% of the U.S. population was made of immigrants – respectively 89.4 million people. With so many people, a lot of them had to go through USCIS who oversees lawful immigration to the U.S. USCIS has to answer 50,000 phone calls to their toll-free phone line, while serving 2,200 people at informational appointments in all their domestic field offices – 86 in total. So, it’s safe to say that a huge number of applicants came in contact with Form I-797. If you don’t know what it is, this article will explain it.

Read on to learn more, or check out our video What is Form I-797? USCIS Notice of Action!

Table of Contents

Form I-797 Notice of Action

Form I-797, Notice of Action, is a form sent to someone who has submitted an application or petition to the USCIS. Basically, this is sent to you once the people at USCIS have received your application, which usually happens after 2-3 weeks. The most important thing to know about Form I-797 is that it serves multiple purposes.

For example, it may be sent to inform you about the approval of your application, or it may ask for extra evidence for your application to be approved. In some other cases, it can also tell you when your scheduled appointment should take place.

It’s also important to know how Form I-797 looks, so you know if you’ve received one. Basically, this form has its top left-hand corner imprinted with a number that has three letters at the beginning. After the three numbers, there are ten digits. On the lower end of the form, there is a replacement I-94 card. On the form, you will also find a description of the action you requested, as well as your name, visa classification approved and validity dates.

Types of Form I-797

As mentioned previously, Form I-797 can be received for various reasons. This is why there are multiple types when it comes to this form and we’ll explain them below:

Form I-797 – Standard Notice

In case you receive this particular form I-797, then it means USCIS is notifying you about the approval of your application or petition. Of course, you should be aware that this isn’t the actual document that you need – it’s nothing but a receipt. It cannot be used for jobs, travel or anything of the sort. In addition, as USCIS specifies, “Form I-797 is NOT a form you can fill out.”

Despite not being able to be used for any of these purposes, you still need to keep a copy of this receipt so you have evidence in case something happens. This form gives you information about your application, and it also allows you to track your case on the official USCIS website.

Form I-797A – Replacement for an I-94 Form

This form is not that different from the regular I-797 form. The difference is that this one is used as a replacement for an I-94 form, with the bottom serving as the official document.

Basically, this form is meant for foreign people who want to come to the U.S. and is also known as the Arrival-Departure Record. On the document, you will find the date to which you are allowed to stay, the admission class, and the date of admission.

Form I-797B – I-140, Petition for Alien Worker

If you are an immigrant who wants to work in the U.S., the chances are that you submitted Form I-140. If that’s the case, then you will receive Form I-797B. This will give you details about your application, like information for admission to the U.S. and many other things. There will be some instructions too.

Form I-797C – Important Information

Form I-797C is usually sent to give you some important information. To be more specific, it will inform you in case of a scheduled/re-scheduled appointment, transfer, re-opening or rejection. It is probably the most common type of Form I-797 sent to applicants. You should read this paper very carefully because it will tell you what you should do next with your application.

Make sure you don’t end up ignoring or misunderstanding certain aspects of this form. This may lead to delays, and you don’t want that.

Form I-797D – Accompanies a Benefit Card

With Form I-797D, you will receive a benefit card in general. You don’t really need to do anything with this form, but you should still make sure to keep it for potential evidence. Keep in mind that this form includes a green card or another official document usually.

Form I-797E – Request for Evidence

You may have applied to the USCIS, but even if you submitted some evidence, it may not be enough to give you approval. That being said, USCIS will ask you for additional information, which is usually asked for through Form I-797E, called the Request for Evidence.

If you read this form, you will notice that it says there may be a potential problem with the evidence you’ve sent, or that there wasn’t any evidence provided. Read it carefully and follow the instructions on it. You should meet the time limit too, or else your application may be rejected.

Form I-797F – Travel Permit

Form I-797F is the most unique one of the bunch. Unlike the other forms, this one can be used for travel, as it’s a Travel Permit. Make sure to follow the instructions the document gives you, and you will be able to travel.

Does the Form I-797 Grant Any Specific Immigration Benefits?

Usually, this form is just a receipt that shows that you’ve submitted an application for a particular benefit. So, USCIS hasn’t determined if you would be eligible to receive immigration benefits.

But once USCIS establishes that you are eligible to receive the benefit for which you submitted the application, they will send you an I-797. This will tell you more about the immigration benefit. If any benefit has been given to you, then you need to carefully read the notice sent to you.

Can I Use Form I-797 in Place of a Visa?

No, Form I-797 is a totally different document and it cannot be used in place of a Visa. Even USCIS clearly specifies this. If you happen to leave the U.S. and want to enter the country, you will need an actual visa.

However, if you are an immigrant and need an extension of status, you can apply for it to the USCIS. If the application is approved, you will receive Form I-797A, which is proof that USCIS has received your application and accepted it. This means that you can remain in the U.S. under the new status or the current one, depending on whether you’ve applied for a change or an extension of status. Your stay is determined by the date written in the form.

But if you leave the U.S. and want to return, you cannot use form I-797A for that. You need to apply for a visa.

Read More

  • How Do I Speak to a Live Person at USCIS?
  • How Many Citizenships Can You Have?
  • How Do I Know Which USCIS Service Center?
  • How Do I Know If USCIS Received My Application?
  • What “Country of Residence” and How to Know Yours When on a Visa
  • How to Check Dropbox Eligibility with the App


It’s important to understand what Form I-797 is if you want to know why you’ve received it. But no matter the reason, two things are clear: you need to read the document carefully, and you need to keep a copy of it. That being said, if you require any additional information, you can look it out on Stilt.

Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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COMPLETE guide to Form I-797 in the U.S. [2023] (2024)


What is the processing time for I-797 in 2023? ›

There are several forms required for a K3 nonimmigrant visa for a spouse. The approximate processing times for each are: Form I-130 – 11.5 months. Form I-797 – 1 to 3 weeks.

What is the difference between I-797 and I 797C? ›

The I-797 (Notice of Action) is a notice that is issued by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS) as part of the visa application process for certain visas (e.g., H, L, O). Different I-797 forms are issued. For example, an I-797C (Receipt Notice) is issued to confirm receipt of an application.

Can I get I-797 online? ›

You can acquire a copy of your I-797 Approval Notice by filing Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition. You cannot file Form I-824 online and must mail your application ( to the appropriate direct filing address.

What is complete I797? ›

Form I-797, Notice of Action, is a letter sent to those who have recently filed an immigrant or non-immigrant application. This notice of action will either confirm that the government has received the application or it will contain the immigration officer's decision to approve an application or petition.

Is USCIS faster in 2023? ›

Each quarter, USCIS releases its updated processing times for key forms. In Q1 of Fiscal Year 2023, Form I-485 and Form I-130 (when the sponsor is a U.S. citizen) improved significantly, while the processing time for Form I-129F remained high.

Will USCIS improve in 2023? ›

The focus is on increasing USCIS's revenue to expedite processing and improve the overall logistics of the agency. In the past, premium processing was the money-maker, and this will expand in 2023. Now, those who opt for this service will see more choices to speed up the application review of their H-1B visas.

What happens after I-797 form is approved? ›

What Happens After I-797 Approval Notice? Keep your Form I-797 Notice of Action as proof that USCIS approved your application or petition. As your application or petition receipt, Form I-797 is an important document that you can use later as proof for immigration benefits or as evidence should a legal case occur.

What is the next step after receiving I-797? ›

Biometrics Exam

1. The first step after getting your Forms I-797C, Notice of Action is the biometrics exam. The USCIS will send you a letter with the time and location of the appointment. Arrive early and bring a copy of your passport and the appointment letter from the USCIS.

How long does it take for I-797 approval? ›

A Form I-797 Notice of Action (as compared to I-797A, I-797B, etc) is simply a receipt notice or approval notice. After filing a USCIS petition, you can usually expect to receive a receipt notice within two to three weeks. For petitions with premium processing, you may receive the notice within a few days.

Can I travel out of U.S. with form I-797? ›

No, Form I-797 is a totally different document and it cannot be used in place of a Visa. Even USCIS clearly specifies this. If you happen to leave the U.S. and want to enter the country, you will need an actual visa. However, if you are an immigrant and need an extension of status, you can apply for it to the USCIS.

Do you need original I-797 to travel? ›

* You do not need to present your original I-797 approval notice when you apply for entry into the U.S. The receipt number on your visa stamp, beginning with EAC or WAC, is sufficient for officials at the port of entry to look up your petition approval in the system.

Can I book visa appointment without i797? ›

Once the petition is approved, USCIS will send your prospective employer a Notice of Action, Form I-797. Important Note: The Form I-797 is no longer needed for your interview. However, to verify your petition approval we will need your I-129 petition receipt number.

How many types of I-797 are there? ›

There are seven different types of Form I797, and each type communicates the details of a petition once it is received by the USCIS. The seven types include: I797.

What happens if I don't have I797? ›

If you lost your I-797 and don't have your receipt number saved anywhere, don't panic. You have to make an appointment with USCIS and bring valid identification documents to ask for your receipt number. This is the only way to meet with anyone from USCIS. With the receipt number, you can now check your status online.

Who keeps the original I-797? ›

The employee is entitled to the original I-797 Notice of Approval and should receive a copy of the original I-129 petition filed and the accompanying Labor Condition Application.

How accurate are USCIS processing times 2023? ›

USCIS processing times are quite accurate but are subject to change without prior notice. For example, the USCIS processing times I-130 may be influenced by an error on the petitioner's side or even the USCIS themselves.

Why is USCIS taking so long 2023? ›

Many students who have pending Post-Completion and STEM OPT applications with USCIS have recently experienced delays in production of their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). USCIS has reduced capacity to print EADs after it ended a contract with an outside vendor responsible for printing these documents.

How long does it take for USCIS to send receipt notices 2023? ›

Posted by Frank Gogol in Immigrants | Updated on June 7, 2023. At a Glance: The USCIS receipt notice provides important information about your case, including a receipt number for tracking. USCIS takes around 8 to 9 weeks to issue receipt notices, but it may vary.

How long does consular processing take 2023? ›

The time needed for consular processing varies from case to case and whether or not your sponsor is a U.S. citizen or green card holder, but you can expect to complete the process in 13.75–15.75 months if you're the spouse of a U.S. citizen and 24.5–32.5 months if you're the spouse of a lawful permanent resident.

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