The Receipt Notice is the first document you receive after you apply or petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Receipt Notices contain information that will help you track the progress of your case. Whenever you hire an attorney to help you with your immigration applications, always bring all USCIS notices with you so he or she can help you better. Receipt Notices are printed on Form I-797, Notice of Action. USCIS prints processing notices on these Notices of Action. These notices include receipt notices, transfer notices, and approval notices. Each looks slightly different.

Notice Type: This tells you what kind of notice this is-receipt notice, transfer notice, approval notice, etc.

Case Type: This states what form this is notice is for. The sample notice is from an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This is a “family-based immigrant visa petition” that a U.S. citizen or legal permanent relative would file asking USCIS to allow his or her family member (here child) to come to the United States permanently.

Receipt Number: The receipt number is very important. With that number you or your attorney can check the status of your case on the USCIS website or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. Receipt numbers start with a three-letter code followed by numbers.

The first three letters refer to the USCIS service center processing your application:

  • EAC – Vermont Service Center (formerly the Eastern Action Center);
  • WAC – California Service Center (formerly the Western Action Center);
  • LIN – Nebraska Service Center (refers to the center’s location in Lincoln, Nebraska);
  • SRC – Texas Service Center (formerly the Southern Regional Center); and
  • MSC – National Benefit Center (formerly the Missouri Service Center).
  • YSC – Potomac Service Center

The two numbers that follow the three-letter code refer to the fiscal year the application was received. The next three numbers refer to the computer day it was received. The remaining five numbers are randomly generated for your unique application.

Example: MSC-17-026-12345 – This application was filed in 2013 with the National Benefit Center on the 26th computer day.

You can check on what receipt date the service center is working on for your type of case by clicking here.  You must know the application form number and the service center.

Priority Date: This is a very important date for many applications. If you are a U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or minor child (under 21), then this date rarely matters for you (only if your child is about to turn 21 would this be important). If you are one of the following, then this date is very important:

  • U.S. citizen filing for a child over 21;
  • U.S. citizen filing or a sibling;
  • Permanent Resident filing for a child or spouse.

The Priority Date refers to your loved one’s spot “in the line.” There are a limited number of visas available each year for each “category” of immigrant. Every month the U.S. government issues a bulletin stating where in the “line” it is processing. To read this, find the preference category on the front of the notice (this will be listed under “Preference Classification” next to the priority date. Then look for your country on the chart to see what the “current” date is that they are issuing visas for. When the date on the chart is later than your Priority Date, you can then apply for the visa so your loved one can come here.