I-797 Notice of action: What you need to know

Keep this form in a safe place, as you may need it to maintain your immigration status.

hand taking envelope out of a mailbox

What's Inside

What's Inside

When you’re facing an immigration matter, it may feel like there are forms from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) around every corner. While you usually need to fill out forms that you submit to USCIS, you may also receive one you don’t need to complete: Form I-797. Typically, an I-797 receipt notice is a letter regarding some action the government has taken or an action you need to take in an immigration case.

Keeping any I-797 you receive from the government can be crucial to maintaining your immigration status. These forms often serve as proof of your immigration benefits or contain essential information to help you obtain a benefit, such as the right to work in, live in, drive in or travel to the United States. 

How a Form I-797 can help you maintain your status depends on the type of form that you receive. This article discusses the different types of Form I-797 and what those documents may mean for your immigration case.

Types of Form I-797

There are seven types of Form I-797:

  • Form I-797, Notice of Action
  • Form I-797A, Notice of Action
  • Form I-797B, Notice of Action
  • Form I-797C, Notice of Action
  • Form I-797D
  • Form I-797E, Notice of Action
  • Form I-797F, Notice of Transportation Letter

Form I-797, Notice of Action

This form tells an individual when the government has received or approved their application or petition for immigration benefits. This paperwork may come in handy when you’re waiting to receive other immigration benefits.

For example, when a permanent resident card (PRC) expires, the permanent resident can file an I-90 application to replace it. When the government receives that I-90, it sends the applicant an I-797, Notice of Action. However, replacement PRCs don’t come right away, and a permanent resident might have an immediate need to prove their status, such as for employment purposes. 

One way a permanent resident can prove they’re authorized to work in the U.S. is to present to their employer their expired PRC and the I-797, Notice of Action, they received after filing their I-90. 

In some cases, a Form I-797, Notice of Action, approval can also be used for travel. Depending on the facts of your case, an expired PRC or conditional permanent resident card and a Form I-797 can be used together to allow you to board a carrier to the U.S.

Get the right lawyer for your immigration case

Schedule a free 15-min call with our team today.

Get started

Form I-797A, Notice of Action

This form for travel purposes is given to individuals to replace Form I-94. Form I-94 comes from the Department of Homeland Security and records the dates when certain noncitizens enter and leave the U.S. Form I-94 also alerts certain noncitizens about how long they can stay in the U.S. during each visit. 

All individuals in the U.S. need a Form I-94 unless they fit into one of the following categories: 

  • U.S. citizen
  • Resident immigrant
  • Individual with an immigrant visa
  • Visiting or in-transit Canadian citizen

Form I-797A, Notice of Action, provides a record of Form I-94 information for a noncitizen. In many cases, Form I-797A is evidence that the USCIS approved a noncitizen’s immigration status so they can remain in the U.S. for longer.

Form I-797B, Notice of Action

Not all immigrant visas are equal. Some allow you to visit only for leisure purposes, while others give you a chance to earn a living while you’re in the U.S. The government sends Form I-797B to a noncitizen after it approves a Form I-140 (petition for the noncitizen’s work authorization) filed by the noncitizen, their employer or a third party.

Form I-797C, Notice of Action

This form notifies noncitizens about the following:

  • A case reopening 
  • The date and time of an immigration-related interview
  • The rescheduling of an immigration-related appointment
  • The government’s receipt of an immigrant’s application or petition
  • The government’s rejection of an immigrant’s application or petition
  • The date and time of an appointment for fingerprint biometrics
  • Additional actions related to their immigration case

By paying close attention to any I-797C or other I-797 you receive, you can avoid missing important appointments or tasks needed to maintain or adjust your immigration status. 

Form I-797D

Form I-797D is given to an individual when they receive an immigration benefit card. If you ever run into an immigration dispute, you might be able to use Form I-797D to prove that you provided specific information to the government, such as your address and the dates on which you received certain immigration benefits.

Form I-797E, Notice of Action

Before the U.S. government grants immigration benefits, it typically needs a large amount of information from a benefit applicant or petitioner. This information may include:

  • Financial documents
  • Employment records
  • Birth certificates
  • Immigration documents
  • Criminal history records
  • Historical reports
  • Marriage certificates
  • Tax returns
  • Witness statements
  • Copies of identification cards
  • Education records
  • Copies of applications for immigration or other government benefits

If the government concludes that it doesn’t have all the information it needs to make a determination about immigration benefits, it might send the petitioner a Form I-797E to request more evidence from them.

Form I-797F, Transportation Letter

Form I-797F is another type of travel document issued by the U.S. government. This form is typically given to lawful permanent residents who are overseas and have a lost, stolen or destroyed green card. It allows them to travel into the U.S. 

Get the right lawyer for your immigration case

Schedule a free 15-min call with our team today.

Get started

When to speak with a lawyer

As with many legal matters, it’s not mandatory to hire an attorney to handle your immigration issue. However, the U.S. immigration system often requires petitioners to fill out form after form and provide document after document before they can get benefits or relief. Because the forms and government requests can seem never-ending, some immigration petitioners seek legal counsel to handle their affairs.

Immigration cases can also be stressful. Many petitioners are uncertain whether they can stay in the U.S. or visit the U.S. to seize personal or professional opportunities. Some find that an attorney eases these concerns.

In an immigration case, an attorney may help you identify, obtain and keep track of all paperwork and evidence you need to prove your eligibility for benefits. An attorney may be able to help you prepare for immigration interviews and argue your case before the immigration court if necessary.

Share with

Bottom line

Our experienced team would love to help you move forward. Schedule a free 15-minute call so we can connect you with an experienced attorney.

Book a free call

Frequently asked questions

Can I travel with an I-797 Notice of Action?

In many cases, yes. In fact, traveling with a Form I-797 may be necessary before entering the United States if your permanent resident card has recently expired or if you need to apply for additional benefits such as an immigration interview waiver for a visa applicant. However, immigration laws and regulations are complex, so check with USCIS or consider working with an attorney if you’re uncertain if you can travel with your I-797.

What happens after an I-797 approval notice?

It depends on your situation. Once you receive an I-797 approval notice, you may have to wait for benefits to arrive, or you might need to take further action, such as attending an immigration interview, to secure benefits. In either case, it’s a good idea to safeguard your I-797 approval notice to help protect your immigration status should an issue arise.

How can I get a copy of my I-797 approval notice?

In some situations, if you’re looking for an I-797 form to download or a way to obtain a new copy of your I-797, Notice of Action, approval, you can submit Form I-824 to receive a duplicate notice.

Can I work with an I-797 approval notice?

Yes, some individuals can use an I-797, Notice of Action, approval to work. For example, when a permanent resident needs to work but hasn’t received a new permanent resident card after their old one expired, an I-797, Notice of Action, approval for a new PRC can be used along with the expired PRC to prove that the permanent resident has permission to work in the United States.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

This page includes links to third party websites. The inclusion of third party websites is not an endorsement of their services.

Share with

More resources