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Home > All Immigration Forms > Form I-797: Types and Functions

In general, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will use this form to tell you about a positive or negative development in your case, give you permission to do something in connection with your case, or ask you to do something in connection with your case.

If you have a receipt number for an application filed with USCIS, you can check your USCIS case status online. First, you need to locate your USCIS receipt numbers starting with three letters. The first letters indicate the service center processing your application. VSC – Vermont Service Center; CSC – California Service Center; NSC – Nebraska Service Center; TSC – Texas Service Center; NBC – National Benefits Center YSC – Potomac Service Center IOE – ELIS (e-filing)

The only receipt numbers not recognized by the USCIS online case verification tool are those associated with asylum cases. To check the status of your asylum application, make a personal inquiry at the asylum office that has jurisdiction over your case. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the receipt letter is only sent to confirm that USCIS has gotten your application or petition. It should not be confused with official notification that USCIS granted your request for the immigration benefit you are seeking. In other words, this is not a notification advising you that USCIS has reached a decision.

Because it is used for different purposes, there are different versions of this form. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

I-797, Notice of Action

This simple version of Form I-797 is also known as an “approval notice” because it is used to let you know when your application or petition (request) for an immigration benefit has been granted. Because it is an official document, it can sometimes be used to demonstrate that you have received the benefit.  Because it is an official document, it is also important that you keep it in a place where it won’t be lost, stolen, damaged or ruined.

I-797A, Notice of Action

This version of Form I-797 is the one USCIS issues for several reasons. Among other things, it will issue this form when you request a new Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record because you have moved. Form I-797A serves as the official approval for the address change and is proof that you are here legally. As such it allows you to remain in the United States through the same date noted on the Form I-94. You can find this date at the bottom of Form I-797A.


USCIS sends you this form to let you know that your alien worker petition has been approved. You’ll get this form whether you applied while living in the United States or in your native country. Because it does not include an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, if you are living outside of the United States when you get this notice, you must get a visa and have it stamped in your native country before coming here.


You’ll get this type of Form I-797 from USCIS for several reasons. It may be a:

Receipt Notice – To let you know that USCIS has received your application or petition along with your payment for associated filing fees. It also includes a receipt number that allows you to track your case status online.

Rejection Notice – To inform you that USCIS has rejected your application or petition because you haven’t provided enough information, you provided the wrong information, sent the wrong amount, or otherwise failed to follow the instructions for payment of associated filing fees.

Transfer Notice – To advise you that your case has been sent to another USCIS office to facilitate the processing of your application or petition.

Re-opened Case Notice – To inform you that a case that was denied before has been reopened and is being processed.

Appointment Notice – To let you know that a biometrics services appointment, interview, or other meeting related to your application or petition for immigration benefits has been scheduled. It includes the date, time, and location of the appointment.


This is the Notice of Action you will get along with certain benefit cards. For example, if you get your Green Card (lawful permanent resident card) or work permit (employment authorization document) in the mail, you will also get a Form I-797D.


This type of Notice of Action is also called a Request for Evidence (RFE). It serves as the official USCIS request for more paperwork to support claims made in your application or petition. If you get one, it’s your responsibility to submit the requested material. Read the notice carefully and submit the documents by the deadline stated on Form I-797E.


This is a transportation letter that will be issued if you’re a lawful permanent resident whose Green Card was lost, stolen, or ruined while you were overseas, and you need to return to the United States. Permanent residents who have been outside the United States for less than one year may get one by filing Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation). This is the Notice of Action you will get along with certain benefit cards. For example, if you get your Green Card (lawful permanent resident card) or work permit (employment authorization document) in the mail, you will also get a Form I-797D.


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