USCIS Announces Change to Form I-797 Receipt and Approval

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

USCIS recently announced that as of September 12, 2011, it began sending original Form I-797 receipt and approval notices directly to applicants and petitioners. USCIS historically sent the approval and receipt notices to attorneys or accredited representatives in cases where a Notice of Entry of Appearance was on file.

Petitioners who prefer their attorney or representative to receive the Form I-797A notices can elect on Form I-129, Petitions for a Nonimmigrant Worker to use an attorney's address as the mailing address on the petition, noting the same and the petitioner's address in a cover letter. For cases filed with the USCIS premium processing service, USCIS will return the notice to the attorney if an alternate address is provided and the attorney or representative includes a pre-paid, self-addressed mailer with the requested mailing address.

USCIS implemented this new practice to ensure that applicants or petitioners receive documents directly, especially in cases where the applicant or petitioner will be receiving an approval notice with an attached I-94 Arrival-Departure Record necessary for employment verification and proof of status. This objective will be served only if petitioners and applicants do in fact receive the notices from USCIS. Applicants or petitioners with pending cases should confirm that they have notified USCIS of any change in address by calling USCIS customer service, updating their address online, or, for individual applicants, filing a Form AR-11.

Where applicable, employer petitioners should promptly forward notices to their human resource offices responsible for updating I-9 forms, and both petitioners and applicants should promptly notify their attorneys of receipt of any correspondence from USCIS for further instructions and record keeping purposes.