Immigration procedures can be difficult and stressful for anyone. The process involves what seems like dozens of applications, official documents, and other moving parts. This can quickly become overwhelming, which is why we’re here to help!
In this article, we'll go over what an immigration case number is, what it's used for, and how to locate one. This information is essential for all immigration processes in the United States, and understanding how to locate it while adjusting your status or if you intend to do so in the future is of utmost importance.
What Is an Immigration Case Number?
An immigration case number is an alphanumeric identifier used in immigration procedures. As the name suggests, it’s used to identify each of the personal procedures that government agencies handle for people who file a procedure or application.
You might ask yourself, "Can't I just give the government agencies my name so they can locate my case?" Although this may seem like the easiest way to organize the system, immigration agencies handle millions of cases simultaneously. This, along with the fact that there may be more than one person with the same name, makes unique and unrepeatable case numbers such an important resource.
It’s important to mention that the term “case number” as such is only used by the National Visa Center (NVC). If your immigration procedure includes an adjustment of status (for example, if you’re in the process of getting a Green Card), the process will initially be managed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This agency uses the term “receipt numbers” for monitoring the status of individual cases.
How Do I Find My Immigration Case Number?
Your immigration case number depends on the type of process for which you're applying and the agency in charge of your case. Below we’ll explain where and how to find your receipt number if your case is being managed by either the USCIS or the NVC.
Receipt number (USCIS)
Once you send your petition to the USCIS, you’ll have to wait between three weeks and three months to receive a document called the “Notice of Action” (Form I-797C). USCIS uses this form to send you different types of notices (like receipt, transfer, or denial of your case). The first time you receive any notice, it will be called a notice of receipt. You’ll find your receipt number in the upper lefthand area of the document below the header that states: “THIS NOTICE DOES NOT GRANT ANY IMMIGRATION STATUS OR BENEFIT.”
Below is an example of the form. The area that’s circled is where you’ll find your receipt number.
Keep in mind: The receipt number is an alphanumeric code with 13 characters. The first three are always letters which represent the office that’s processing your case. If you send an electronic petition or request, these letters will be “IOE.” You’ll find ten numbers after the letters. The first two numbers represent the year, and the next three represent the day that your case was received. The last five letters are your procedure’s unique identifier.
Case number (NVC)
If your immigration case is being handled by the National Visa Center, you’ll be assigned an identification number called a “case number.” When you start an immigration process through the NVC or when the USCIS approves your case and transfers it to the NVC, you’ll receive a Welcome Letter.
Below you’ll find an example of where to locate your case number:
What If I Didn’t Receive My Form I-797C or Welcome Letter?
Given that U.S. immigration agencies deal with a high volume of cases, people in the middle of the immigration process don't always receive their Form I-797C or Welcome Letter. If your case has been underway for more than a month and you still haven't gotten either of these documents, you can do the following:
If you didn’t receive your Form I-797C:
If you paid the fees with a credit card or check, contact your bank. If you paid with a credit card, your receipt number for that transaction along with the amount charged should be in your bank statement. If you paid with a check, the bank will print your receipt number on the back when it’s cashed.
If you used another method of payment, like a money order, call the USCIS at 800-375-5283.
If you didn’t receive your Welcome Letter:
Call the NVC at 603-334-0700. They’ll be able to look up your case number using your name, date of birth, and USCIS receipt number (if applicable).
How Do I Check My Immigration Case?
The primary purpose of both receipt and immigration case numbers is to monitor your status. This is simple and can be done online. Follow the steps below to check the status of your case:
To check a USCIS receipt number: Type in your receipt number at this link.
To check an NVC case number: Type in receipt number at this site. If your case is for a Green Card, select “Immigrant visa (IV)” from the drop-down menu. If you’re looking for a temporary visa, you’ll have to pick “Nonimmigrant visa (NV)”. You’ll also have to fill out the captcha, which is a series of security letters and numbers that appear in an image.
We Hope Your Immigration Process Goes Smoothly!
We know the immigration process in the U.S. can be confusing and requires a lot of effort. Rest assured, it’s worth it in the end! If you’re in the process of adjusting your immigration status or if you have questions about it, feel free to contact our team of experts. Our chat is available 24/7 and it’s our mission to help you.