In the past, U.S. embassies and consulates required the original I- 797 CIS Approval Notice as definitive proof of the petition's approval. In late 2007 the Department of State (DOS) implemented an electronic system referred to as PIMS (Petition Information Management Service) which requires U.S. consular officers to verify the integrity of the nonimmigrant petition approval through the PIMS system. According to a DOS November 7, 2007 cable, the "electronic PIMS record…is the primary evidence to be used in determining petition approval." Therefore, the U.S. consular officers no longer require the presentation of an original Form I-797 Approval Notice to establish petition approval. The DOS website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1271.html#1 (click on "Other Documentation") confirms that the "Form I-797 is no longer used to verify petition approval, and is no longer necessary for a nonimmigrant visa interview."
However, many of the U.S. consulates and embassies have not updated their websites to reflect this change, nor have they notified the contractors who answer visa application inquires and schedule visa appointments and visa interviews. Because of this, applying for a nonimmigrant visa without an original I-797 Approval Notice may be worrisome to some visa applicants. We have received no reports of visa refusal for lack of an original I-797 Approval Notice, but visa applicants who have doubts may wish to carry the original approval notice to their consular visa appointments until all U.S. consulates update their stated requirements.