U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues the I-797 Notice of Action to indicate the status of a visa petition. The notice can show that USCIS has received a petition, taken another action, requested further action by the petitioning party, or approved or denied a petition. For a U.S. immigrant visa petition requesting approval for an individual to apply for permanent legal residence, the I-797 Notice of Action often indicates the individual's priority date for either a family-based immigration petition or employer-based immigration petition.
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Identify the type of U.S. immigrant visa petition that a family member or employer has filed on your behalf---for a family-based petition, a relative generally files the I-130 petition, while an employer files the I-140 petition.
Review the top portion on the front page of the I-797 Notice of Action from the I-130 or I-140 petition filed with USCIS. (Find the box labeled "Priority Date" and note the date printed in this box.
Understand that for I-797 Notices of Action indicating that USCIS has received an immigrant visa petition, but not yet issued an approval or denial, the notice does not always include an official priority date. Estimate the potential priority date---for the I-130 petition, the priority date is the date when USCIS receives a properly-filed, complete petition, while for the I-140 petition, both the USCIS receipt date or the date when the U.S. Department of Labor received an application for labor certificate could determine the priority date. Check the status of the visa petition through the USCIS website and find the date when the agency accepted a properly-filed petition, as this date will also determine the receipt date of the petition.
Tips & Warnings
Consult with a U.S. immigration lawyer if you need an explanation of your priority date or other visa processing issues.
The priority date shows whether an individual can immediately apply to enter the United States or must wait for her priority date to become current under the U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin. (see Resources)
For a U.S. immigrant visa petition filed on behalf of an eligible immediate relative, such as a spouse, child who has not reached the age of 21 years or parent, the immediate relative can apply for a green card whenever USCIS approves the visa petition; an immediate relative does not need to wait for his priority date to become current.Tags: visa petition, I-797 Notice, immigrant visa, immigrant visa petition