After you’ve filed almost any application or petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they will respond by mailing you a Form I-797, Notice of Action, within approximately 1-2 weeks. The I-797, Notice of Action, is commonly known as a receipt letter.
For applicants that have incorrectly filed or included the wrong payment, this receipt letter will indicate that the case has been rejected. The applicant will need to refile. If you’ve prepared the form correctly and followed the USCIS directions carefully, this receipt letter will indicated that your case has been accepted. Once the form has been accepted, USCIS will begin reviewing your case.
The receipt letter contains a unique 13-digit receipt number. Also known as a case number, it’s a very important number to help you track the progress of your case or identify a particular immigration filing.
How to Read a USCIS Receipt Number
It’s not necessary that you understand the details of how to read a USCIS receipt number. But you may be curious. It can be very helpful to understand the basics so that you are aware of your case’s location and timeline.
If you submitted a visa petition, adjustment of status, green card renewal, citizenship application, DACA or almost any other USCIS form, the receipt number will allow you to more easily track the status of your case.
Each of the 13 digits in a USCIS receipt number has a specific purpose. Here’s how to read a USCIS receipt number.
Let’s take an example receipt number to explain it:
WAC 11 012 50960
Service Center (WAC 11 012 50960)
Every receipt number begins with three letters that represent the service center that received the case. There are several codes for USCIS service centers. They include:
CSC – California Service Center
EAC – Eastern Adjudication Center (now known as Vermont Service Center)
IOE – ELIS (efile)
LIN – Lincoln Service Center (now known as Nebraska Service Center)
MSC – Missouri Service Center (now known as National Benefits Center)
NBC – National Benefits Center
NSC – Nebraska Service Center
SRC – Southern Regional Center (now known as Texas Service Center)
TSC – Texas Service Center
VSC – Vermont Service Center
WAC – Western Adjudication Center (now known as California Service Center)
Fiscal Year (WAC 11 012 50960)
The second set of digits represent the fiscal year that the case was received. Government agencies use a fiscal year that is different from the calendar year. It begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. So our example case number was opened between October 2010 and September 2011.
Computer Workday (WAC 11 012 50960)
The third set of digits indicates the computer workday that the case was opened. The computer workday is basically the same thing as a workday. Therefore it excludes most weekends and holidays. Our example case was opened on the 12th workday of the 2011 fiscal year (October 18, 2010).
Case Number (WAC 11 012 50960)
The final set of five digits is the case number.
How to Check USCIS Case Status Online
When you receive your receipt number, you can also verify and track your case by entering the number online. It’s easy to track the status of your case on the USCIS website. Follow these simple steps to check your case status with your USCIS receipt number:
Enter your USCIS receipt number
Lost USCIS Receipt Number
If you have lost your receipt letter with the USCIS receipt number, it can be recovered. Schedule an InfoPass appointment with USCIS. An InfoPass appointment is made through the USCIS website. Generally, it’s the only way to get face-to-face access to a USCIS employee. In most cases, you will not be able to enter a USCIS facility without an appointment. At your InfoPass appointment, you can ask questions about your case and request your receipt number if necessary. Take your passport or other valid identification documents to the appointment.
In some cases USCIS will process your application in the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). For example, if you file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, an online account will be automatically created for you. You will receive a “Welcome to USCIS ELIS” letter with instructions on how to access your USCIS online account. A USCIS online account allows you to:
- Check the status of your application
- Receive notifications and case updates
- Manage your contact information
If you choose not to access your USCIS online account, USCIS will still process your application in USCIS ELIS. You will receive notifications and updates about your application by mail through the U.S. Postal Service.
CitizenPath is the online service that makes immigration forms simple. The website provides simple, step-by-step guidance through USCIS applications and petitions. The low-cost service helps to simplify the process by explaining each question and providing alerts if your answer to a question could be a problem. Most people do not need a lawyer to prepare USCIS forms, but many need a little assistance. That’s where CitizenPath can help. CitizenPath provides support for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), Citizenship Application (Form N-400), Green Card Renewal (Form I-90), and several other popular forms.