It’s easy to feel like a computer just filling out endless forms for USCIS to emigrate to the US. However, there is one form that USCIS must fill out and send to you: the I-797 form. There are different versions of the I-797 for different purposes, but all of them are probably the most important documents USCIS will send you. If you have a safe, put an I-797 that you receive next to your family gems, passport, and that collection of baseball cards.
This manual I-797 will help you maneuver through the various types of this form. It also tells you how to check your I-797 status online and how the form can be useful without just notifying you of changes in your case.
- What is the I-797?
- Different types of I-797
- Using Your I-797 Through The COVID-19 Pandemic
- Check your case status online if you’ve lost your I-797 and receipt number
- How our immigration lawyers can help
What is the I-797 form?
After submitting an immigration application to USCIS, the agency will communicate with you primarily through the I-797 form. This is not a form that you fill out.
I-797 typically notify applicants that USCIS has received their application. It is important to read the form carefully as it also contains instructions that you will need to follow for the rest of the application process. Instructions include, but are not limited to, interview requests, a list of the documents you need to bring to an interview, travel instructions, and requests for additional evidence. I-797 will also be sent if your immigration application is approved.
In addition to the instructions, it is important to read to see if the I-797 you are receiving offers immigration benefits. Most do not contain any benefits and state so explicitly, but some do.
The I-797 proves why it is imperative to notify USCIS if you ever move so they know where to send all this important information. If you have a change of address, you will need to complete and submit AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, or update it using your USCIS online account.
What does the priority date on I-797 mean?
Your I-797 may have a priority date when applying for a visa or green card. After your date of birth, this may be the most important date to remember. Your priority date is the date USCIS received your application. You will use this priority date when checking the Visa bulletin to see where you are in the queue. If the final promotion date is the same as your priority date, it means you are up to date. Now, if you’re up to date, you can adjust your status or go through consular processing to get your green card or visa.
How long does it take to get an I-797?
You should receive an I-797 typically two to three weeks after submitting your application. Remember, the I-797 is often just a notice from USCIS that they received your application and nothing more. However, it’s still important to save.
Different types of I-797 forms
The I-797 you will be given will depend on the type of immigration application you submitted and where you are in the process.
The I-797, which has no letter at the end, is the simplest. This will be sent by USCIS notifying you that they have received your application. Although simple, the basic I-797 contains two important details: priority date and document number.
We discussed the priority date above. The receipt number is the most important number to remember after your phone number. This 13-digit alphanumeric code can be used to check your case status online. The number is also your identifier when you continue the application process. Most immigration officers will request this.
I-797A, Notice of Replacement of I-94
If you’ve filed an I-94 extension, adjusted your status, or changed your address, you will be given an I-797A. If you receive this form, it usually means your extension or status change has been approved. Below is a new I-94 with a new expiration date.
I-797B, Alien Worker Petition Approved
If you submitted an I-140 form for immigration applications for foreign workers, you will be happy to receive the I-797B. The I-797B qualifies you to work in the United States. While you are approved for work, it doesn’t always mean your extension of stay will be approved. If you don’t see a new I-94 using the I-797B, you may need to return to your country and go to a consulate to get your visa stamped. Be sure to read all of the instructions on the I-797B to see what to do next.
I-797C, Important Follow-Up Information
In addition to notifying you that USCIS received your application, I-797C may notify you of an appointment, rejection, transfer, or reopening of a case. Be sure to read through the entire form to understand what your next steps should be.
The appointments listed on an I-797C can be a biometric appointment or an interview with a USCIS immigration officer. You will also receive an I-797C for rescheduled appointments.
You will notice that below, in capital letters, it reads, “THIS NOTICE DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY IMMIGRANT STATUS OR BENEFIT.” Make sure the form is secure as it can serve as verification.
Make sure you follow the instructions on the form as soon as possible to avoid delays in processing.
I-797D, discount card
If it’s possible to have a favorite shape, it has to be the I-797D. It is the form that comes with gifts. Depending on what you are applying for, the I-797D may come with a green card or work permit document.
Although the gifts are nice and shiny, keep the I-797D in case you lose your Advantage Card.
I-797E, Request for Evidence
This could be our least preferred I-797 shape. The I-797E means that additional evidence will be required for your missing documents from your original application or USCIS. Requests for evidence are common and can be as simple as a marriage or birth certificate. You can also be more involved, such as a request for a series of bank statements. Make sure to submit each requested document as requested. If you don’t respond to the request for evidence, you run the risk of rejection.
I-797F, transport letter
The I-797F is not just used to inform you about your application: it enables you to travel. USCIS will send this form to overseas applicants for travel. Each I-797F has instructions that are specific to your case. Make sure you make copies of this form and keep them in a safe place.
Using Your I-797 Through The COVID-19 Pandemic
With the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has experienced mounting delays in processing. They were released on August 19, 2020 new instructions that the I-797 can be used as a form of employability check while addressing the delay in processing work permit documents. Although I-797 states that it is not proof of a work permit, the government will accept it until December 1, 2020.
To use your I-797 in this way, it must have been sent on or after December 1, 2019 by August 20, 2020. The I-797 must also state that your work permit application has been approved. For the I-9, the I-797 only serves as an employability check and not as an ID.
This is the only time an I-797 is used in this way. However, with impending budget shortages and the decline in the workforce, it is important to save any I-797 only if USCIS makes further changes.
Check your case status online if you’ve lost your I-797 form and receipt number
We told you in this article to salvage your I-797, but we understand mistakes happen. If you’ve lost your I-797 and haven’t saved your receipt number anywhere, don’t panic. You need to Make an appointment with USCIS and bring valid identification to ask for your receipt number. This is the only way you can meet someone from USCIS. With the receipt number you can now Check your status online.
You can also check your case status without a receipt number by calling USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. However, the phone wait times can be long.
How our immigration lawyers can help
The I-797 is a simple form and can contain complicated instructions and requirements for complex documents. This is why an experienced immigration attorney is vital to assist you with your entire application process. Also, you never have to worry about not having your receipt number.
Our team of immigration attorneys have extensive experience in I-797, Evidence Requests, I-94, Green Card, Work Permit and more. The team knows how to follow all I-797 instructions in such a way that USCIS is satisfactory. If you have any problems with your I-797 or any other immigration issue, you can book a consultation with one of our lawyers today by simply filling out this free contact form.
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