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The Rocket Science of the Form I-824

19 Jul, 2023

By Anna Sergeeva, Esq. | [email protected]

Learn more about why you may need to file Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition in this JKQ Law explanation.

What Is Form I-824?

The Form I-824 is called an Application for Action on an Approved Petition. The purpose of Form I-824 is to request further action from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on a previously approved application or petition.

If your previous approval is revoked or expired, or you want to verify the status of a pending application or petition, you should not file Form I-824. But, if you have an approved I-130 petition for an alien relative that was not forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), you lost a USCIS approval notice, or you made another type of error with an I-130 petition, you may have to file a Form I-824.

After doing several videos addressing the challenges surrounding Form I-824, our firm JQK Law found itself inundated with self-filers affected by incorrectly filed Form I-130s. We sadly receive daily emails from families that are trapped in this scenario. Along with that, we have seen many colleagues struggle with handling I-824 cases. I hope that this article proves to be a helpful resource.

If you need further assistance, we would be happy to help. JQK Law is a boutique-style immigration law firm. We have decades of experience with U.S. immigration law issues. JQK Law focuses on fewer cases so each client gets the undivided attention they deserve.

Why You May Need to File Form I-824?

The I-824 is an Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition. In a nutshell, if any extra work is needed on an already approved USCIS case, then the Form I-824 is what you need.

Typically, I-824 comes up in one of these two contexts:

  1. I-130 family petitioners that mistakenly requested adjustment of status at a local USCIS Field Office, instead of immigrant visa processing abroad through the embassy, didn’t indicate a processing location at all, or selected both options;
  2. Clients that adjusted status, usually in one of the employment-based categories, where the primary applicant’s derivatives are abroad and need to do “follow-to-join.”

There may be other reasons you need to file Form I-824. For example, you have received Form I-797 Notice of Action from USCIS, but you’ve lost or damaged the form, or the form was stolen. In that case, you can receive another copy if you file Form I-824.

You can also file Form I-824 to notify the NVC of certain USCIS decisions that can impact your immigration status or to alert a U.S. Embassy or consulate you have been approved entry to the United States.

How to Deal with I-824 Cases

A few crucial points to keep in mind when dealing with I-824 cases.

  1. Know that you can file the I-824 concurrently with the I-485 application. This can speed up the process and importantly serve the “sought to acquire” requirement for the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), protecting potential age-out children.
  2. I-824 timelines are all over the place. We have had approvals in 4 weeks and others pending over 20 months. Even after approval, USCIS sometimes does not follow through and transfer the file to the National Visa Center, causing months and months of more delay and family separation.
  3. Make sure that you use the correct underlying application basis for the Form I-824. For example:
    – if requesting an approved I-140 be sent to the NVC, the petitioning employer must sign/submit the I-824;
    – however, if filing the I-824 with an I-485 (for follow-to-join), the Applicant would sign/submit the I-824.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are a few options you may try before filing an I-824. If we are talking about the “follow-to-join” scenario, we always offer filing an I-130 petition in addition to the Form I-824 because we don’t know whether the I-824 follow-to-join or I-130 will get adjudicated faster. Note, that your clients will be going under the F2A category in the Visa Bulletin, which recently retrogressed. If your lawful permanent resident client’s I-130 gets approved before the I-824, and if the F2A category is still not current, there will be more delays.

On the other hand, the Form I-824 follow-to-join case retains the priority date of the principal applicant. At the same time, because of the backlogs we are currently seeing, marriage-based immigrant visa cases have priority over employment-based cases. Thus, the I-824 processing, post-processing, and interview appointment delays (including Visa Bulletin retrogression) can lead to more than a year or two of delays.

Therefore, in most cases, it is prudent to offer both options in hopes that one of them will make it faster.

The mistake on the I-130 scenario brings in more alternatives.

  1. If the I-130 petition is still pending, and you spotted an error in the processing location (requesting both adjustment of status and consular processing options that are listed on page 8 of Form I-1302, leaving both options blank, or requesting adjustment of status only), you can try to correct the error. You can send a letter listing the corrections to the USCIS Service Center where the petition is pending (or upload it to your myUSCIS online account). USCIS oftentimes transfers filings without notifying the parties, so it may be good to call USCIS’ 1-800 number to confirm the current location of the petition. In the correction letter please make sure to clearly indicate that the petitioner is requesting processing through the embassy in a foreign country.
  2. If the I-130 petition has recently been approved, and you received an approval notice saying that USCIS is retaining the petition and asking you to file the Form I-824, do not yet file I-824. We tried all of the following strategies and they worked in some cases, but not all:
  • Call USCIS at 1-800 and tell them that you (the petitioner) made a mistake on I-130 and ask them to move the case to the National Visa Center for further processing. Surprisingly, it may work;
  • You can make the same request through “Ask Emma” on USCIS’ website;
  • If the Form I-130 was filed online, write a message through your myUSCIS online account;
  • Write NVC through the Ask NVC feature on their website so that they request the case from USCIS;
  • Email NVC at [email protected] with the same inquiry;
  • Seek help from a congressperson.

All the above may work even without filing I-824. Sometimes, it is still a good practice to file I-824 ASAP to lock the child’s age for the CSPA purposes.

As a practical consideration, in one of our cases, USCIS even issued a second approval notice with the new date and the language saying that USCIS sent the petition to the National Visa Center. We tried several different approaches in that case and we really don’t know which one of them actually did the job.

Have More Questions on Form I-824? Contact Us Today!

There may be other cases when you need to file Form I-824 Application For Action on An Approved Application or Petition. Furthermore, other forms can be involved in the immigration process, so it can be confusing when it is applicable to request additional action with Form I-824.

Whatever the case, you have to pay the filing fee to file Form I-824 ($465) as well as add a short explanation of why you are filing the form.

Filling the I-824 is not as easy as it may seem. In reality, it is a crucial application that can potentially take years to complete causing families to remain separated throughout the process.

If you are having trouble with your immigration issues, reach out to an immigration attorney at JQK Law. We are a dedicated team that is continually learning, growing, and earning prestigious awards for its exceptional work in immigration law and commitment to clients. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so we can discuss how we can help you. 

About the Author

Anna is a senior associate immigration attorney at JQK Law Firm, headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. As a first-generation immigrant from Belarus, Anna is passionate about immigration law. She primarily practices in the fields of family and employment-based immigration.

1 USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 7, Part A, Chapter 7, FN45: https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-7-part-a-chapter-7#footnote-45

2 Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, Edition 07/20/21: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/i-130.pdf

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