USCIS I-797 Notice of Action Explained

Updated on 03/12/2023

Like any other federal agency, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) depends upon various forms. If you’ve been reading our website, you’ve probably figured out that the USCIS communicates with nearly all immigration applicants through a series of approved forms and documents. One of these is actually a “family” of seven different forms, all under the number I-797 and all, except for two, called a “Notice of Action”. Here’s a brief summary of what each type of I-797 notice is used for:



I-797, Notice of Action

USCIS issues this notice to notify you as an immigration-related applicant that the application or petition has been approved.  

I-797A, Notice of Action

USCIS ordinarily issues this notice as a replacement for Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Usually, this means that a requested change or extension in status has been approved and that you can legally remain in the United States. Form I-94 is located at the bottom of the I-797A notice. It shows a date through which you, as the holder, may legally remain in the United States. 

If you believe you should receive an I-797A but USCIS issued an I-797, please check our article I-94 Arrival/Departure Record FAQ to figure out how to correct it.

I-797B, Notice of Action

This notice is issued upon approval of an I-129 alien worker petition.

·         If the alien worker is outside the United States when filing the 129 petition, USCIS will issue an I-797B upon approval of the petition. In order to legally enter and work in the United States, the alien worker should apply for a working visa with the I-797B notice at the U.S. embassy/consulate (in his or her home country if it is the first time to get such type of working visa).

·         If the alien worker is inside the United States when filing the 129 petition and requests change or extend his legal status in the United States in the petition, USCIS will issue an I-797A upon approval of the petition. However, assume the alien worker has status break or gap before the approval of the petition, USCIS will issued an I-797B which requires the alien worker to leave the United States and re-enter with a valid working visa.

I-797C, Notice of Action

This is a multipurpose communication notice and most commonly used by USCIS. Specifically:

·         Used as receipt notice: USCIS issues a receipt notice if you properly file a petition or application to USICS. The notice confirms receipt of the case by USCIS as well as payment of filing fee. It also contains a 13-digit number that begins with three letters followed by a series of 10 digits, which is also known as USCIS receipt number USCIS case number. With this number, you may track the case status through USCIS’s online tool.

·         Used as rejection notice: USCIS issues a rejection notice if there is something wrong with your filing, for example incorrect filing fee payment, or missing signatures in the application form. If rejected, USCIS will not accept the filing and your entire application package with a rejection notice will be returned to you within one month approximately. You may re-file as long as you correct the mistake.

·         Used as appointment notice: USCIS issues an appointment notice to schedule biometrics (to have fingerprint and photo), I-485 adjustment of status interview, N-400 naturalization interview, or other types of USCIS appointments for applicants. The notice communicates the appointment date, time, location and other necessary information that applicants should know to appear at the appointment.

·         Used as transfer notice: USCIS occasionally transfers cases from one service center to another service center to balance the workload among its several services centers. By sending a transfer notice, USCIS duly notifies the applicant or petitioner that the application or petition has been transferred to another service center.

·         Used as re-open cases: A notice of reopening advises that a previously-denied case has been reopened and is being further processed by USCIS.


This notice accompanies so-called “benefit” cards issued to non-citizens, such as green card, employment authorization document (EAD/Work Permit), reentry permit, or refugee travel document.

I-797E, Notice of Action

This notice is issued when USCIS needs additional evidence to further process your application or petition. It is also known as Request for Evidence. The notice usually lists a deadline for submitting the additional documents, 87 days or 30 days, depends on the type of application or petition. It’s important to observe that deadline, as the USCIS will likely deny your application if you don’t. If you are not sure how to respond a Request for Evidence, it is a good time to consult an immigration attorney.

I-797F, Transportation Letter

It is known as a “transportation letter”. It is typically issued to a green card holder who is outside the United States for less than one year and his or her green card has been lost, destroyed, mutilated or expired. With an I-797F, one may enter the United States.

What if there is an error in my I-797 Notice of Action?

The answer really depends on what type of application you filed, which type of I-797 Notice of Action you received, and what kind of error it is. Some errors will not significantly affect your application while others will negative even cause the application to be denied by USCIS. No matter what error it is, you may always go to USCIS’s e-request page to file a request online to correct a typographic error in the notice. If USCIS approves your request, it will mail you an updated notice. If USCIS is reluctant to do so, you may consult an immigration attorney to figure out the best solution.

What if no I-797 Notice of Action received but USCIS online case status said it was sent?

You may go to USCIS’s e-request page to file a request online to request USCIS re-send its duplicate copy. It works for most times. However, if you failed to receive an I-797 approval notice, most likely USCIS will not re-send you its duplicate copy especially when USCIS correctly sent the original approval notice to your address in USCIS’s record. That’s why it is important to report change of address to USCIS after you move in a timely manner. If USCIS is reluctant to re-send the I-797 approval notice, the only option to get its duplicate copy is to file an I-824 application which will cost you $465 filing fee.

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