U.S. immigration notices can be complicated. Among the various documents involved, the USCIS I-797A and I-797B Notices of Action are essential for professionals working in the United States. This document signifies the USCIS’s approval of your case and is critical in extending or changing the status process. Whether you’re on an H-1B, TN, or L1 visa, understanding the I-797 Notice of Action is crucial for employers and employees. This blog clarifies distribution guidelines and exceptional cases.

USCIS I-797A Notice of Action

The USCIS I-797A Notice of Action is a vital immigration document, particularly for work visas such as H-1B, TN, or L1. This official document signifies the approval of a case by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Notably, it is commonly associated with extension or change of status petitions.

Distribution Guidelines

According to USCIS guidelines, the distribution of the I-797A involves a clear separation. The petitioner or employer retains the upper portion, while the lower portion, including the I-94 section, is designated for the beneficiary or employee. The I-94 portion should be submitted to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon departing the United States.

Moreover, the left part of the document plays a crucial role when applying for a new visa or reentering the country at a port of entry or pre-flight inspection station, especially when a visa is not required.

USCIS I797A Approval

USCIS I-797B Notice of Action

Parallel to the I-797A, the USCIS Form I-797B Notice of Action is significant. This approval notice is issued for employees processing their visas at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or Port of Entry and follows a similar distribution pattern. The employer retains the top portion, and the employee receives the original bottom portion.

Understanding the visa processing nuances, especially for H-1B visas, is influenced by the I-797 approval type and the employee’s country of citizenship.

USCIS I797B Approval Notice

Special Cases

Certain countries, like Canada, enjoy unique privileges that exempt them from visa stamping at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Canadians can go directly to a U.S. port of entry or pre-flight inspection with the I-797 notice without needing a visa stamp.


The USCIS I-797A Notice of Action is more than just a piece of paper; it’s a vital immigration document, especially for work visa holders. By adhering to the USCIS’s distribution guidelines, employers and employees can ensure compliance with legal requirements and avoid potential hiccups in the visa process. Moreover, understanding the nuances of the I-797A and I-797B Notices of Action can significantly impact the visa processing experience, particularly for citizens of countries like Canada, who benefit from unique immigration privileges.

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