Request H1 petition copy from USCIS through FOIA from India

Hi Saurabh and all Active Participants,

I have an approved H1B petition but did not ever work on it since I was on L1 visa. My H1sponsorer is not sharing the approved petition copy or I797. Petition number was shared and based on the inputs from this forum, I came to know that H1 transfer can be filed with the petition number alone. Please confirm.

Question 1: I’m currently in India. Can I request a copy of the approved petition or my Immigration file from USCIS based on FOIA ? Will the CD or the copies sent to India address? If not, can I give the address of a friend who is in US?

Question 2: I read that Notarizing the FOIA requesting form would have more value. Can I do so with an Indian notary?

Question 3: Can we hire an US Attorney to request the documents from USCIS through FOIA? Are Attorney’s authorized to do so? If yes, probable fee they might charge will be helpful.

Any inputs are highly appreciated.

Thank you.

  1. I don’t think they will send it overseas, but you should be able to get it at your friend’s place in US

  2. I don’t know about it

  3. Yes, attorney can do that. I don’t remember the form number, but s/he can submit one form to show that they are reprenting you and request the receipt copy. I don’t know about the fees.

BTW, for H-1 transfer just the receipt number is sufficient. It is not required to have approval notice.

Thank you Saurabh for the information. You are doing a great job through this forum. I’m following this website from past 1.5 years and I’m a fan of you.

One quick question on requesting the documents to my friends address in US:
If I put the address for correspondence as US address(of my friend), would USCIS question or think suspicious about me since I’m not physically present in US?
Note: Since I’m not in US, I need to put the I94 field as blank or NA. If that field is blank, then USCIS may know that I’m not physically present in US. Does USCIS care/concerned of requesting person’s current location while issuing foia docs?

Also, based on your past experience(on this forum), have you heard anyone getting foia docs while they are in India?

Finally, would my petitioner know that I have requested I797 and H1 approval copy?

Best regards.

I don’t think they ask for address proof, but I haven’t tried FOIA myself to know for sure. Also, I don’t think petitioner will know about your FOIA. But still search online to see some real FOIA experiences.

Hi Saurabh,
My H1B petition was approved on Nov 2012. I resigned my company & came to US on H4. My employer dint share me the receipt number of my approved petition. I came to know from your site that we can file FOIA request to get the duplicate copy.
Question 1:
Is it attorney can file FOIA request on behalf of me?
Question 2:
How long approximately will it take to get the record from USCIS
Question 3:
Can you suggest how to file FOIA request


I haven’t done it myself but this is what I gathered from others’ experiences:

  1. Yes, it is suggested to have an attorney file it for you
  2. Don’t know
  3. Find an attorney and ask them to file FOIA for you along w/ the reason (you don’t have receipt number and want to use it for cap-exempt purpose).

Hi Sir,

Did you get the H1b approval notice I-797B through FOIA ? Please share your experience it will be helpful for us. Even I’m also planning to apply for the same.

Thanks in advance.



I thought of sharing my experience on H1B transfer and obtaining the I797 copies through FOIA.

I was able to get H1B transferred without a receipt copy.

When I returned to US, I sent out FOIA requests by myself and was successful. I did not use Attorney. I used US address. I had notarized my documents just to be safe.

Hope this will be helpful for others.


Hi. I lost my I 797 A (approval notice). Can I file an FOIA request by myself and will I be able to get it? Please suggest
Thanks in advance!

Hi Chialse,
I know its quite a late query after 5 years, but I am in the same situation and was wondering if you were able to get the receipt number/ i-797 somehow.

Thanks in advance