What Is a Form I-797C Notice of Action?

by Tom Streissguth

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service handles applications for immigrant and non-immigrant visas, work authorizations, permanent residency status and citizenship. As applicants send the required payment and fees to the agency, the USCIS responds with notifications to the applicant. As an all-purpose framework for some of these communications, the agency employs Form I-797C, also known as a Notice of Action.

Purpose

It's important to remember that there are seven different kinds of Form I-797, including six lettered varieties from A to F, and each has a specific purpose. The I-797C is simply a notification form that does not grant any benefit, such as permission to work or stay in the U.S. It is not an approval notice (which is issued on a plain I-797), and it can't be used as official documentation of your immigration status. The USCIS prints the 797s on plain bond paper and sends them through the mail to anyone with a pending application, or to employers who have applied for a visa for a prospective employee.

Applications and Files

If you have filed a petition for a visa or a change in status with the USCIS, the I-797C will acknowledge receipt of the application as well as the filing fee; it provides important evidence concerning the date of the application and should be kept safe. If your application is missing vital information, or is otherwise invalid, then you may receive a 797C rejection letter and information on how you can re-submit. If the USCIS moves your file from one office to another, the form will inform you of that action.

Appointments

One of the most important functions of the 797C is to notify applicants of an appointment. The 797C may advise of an upcoming interview at a USCIS office, and what you need to bring. The visa application process may involve photos and the recording of biometric information, such as fingerprints. In many locales, biometric information is taken by sub-contractors, who carry out the work at their own premises on behalf of the USCIS. The 797C will tell you when and where to appear for any appointments.

Other Uses and Information

If you've missed an appointment, the 797C will inform you of the new date, time and place. If you have petitioned to re-open a closed case, the form will announce USCIS decisions. The notice will carry information about your application, including the case type, application receipt number, application receipt date, priority date, preference classification and handling office. If you have questions on the information, the notice also has the phone number for the National Customer Service Center and the agency's web address at www.uscis.gov.

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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