In mid-September, USCIS began sending the I-797 Notice of Action for employer-based visa petitions directly to the company filing the petition rather than the attorney-of-record. After hearing from both companies and attorneys about the negative consequences of this policy change, the USCIS announced on October 20, 2011, that it will once again begin sending approval notices to attorneys. USCIS stated that the change will take effect in approximately six weeks. Accordingly, employers should still remain vigilant in checking their mail for immigration-related documents from USCIS for at least the next two months.

Many people complained about USCIS’ sudden decision to begin sending approval notices directly to employers rather than their attorneys. The potential harm that can result from a misrouted, mishandled, or lost document can be serious. For example, when an I-797 notice is sent to a large employer, the document can be misrouted within the organization, resulting in delays in reaching the foreign national. In a worst-case scenario, the document can be lost. In addition, some attorneys reported that requests for additional evidence were going directly to petitioners and applicants, not to attorneys of record.

The USCIS held a teleconference on October 12, 2011, to hear stakeholders’ concerns about the new I-797 procedures.

Click here to view the USCIS notice about the I-797 processing change.