Getting I-140 and I-797 through Freedom of Information Act

I was expecting to receive the Form I-140 and corresponding Approval Form I-797 from my previous employer after my exit but unfortunately they have refused to share it. My questions -

  1. What’s the best advise you offer to negotiate release of my documents from my previous employer? My employer suggests it’s their property and won’t release them at any cost though they have never shared any such policy regarding the same.

  2. Is there any option apart from FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) to retrieve my I-140 and corresponding I-797?

  3. From an immigration standpoint, are both forms required to help me renew my H1B the second time? Or only the I-797 Approval Notice is important?

  4. Can you comment on the accuracy of this article to retrieve both forms via FOIA? It suggests -

  • Form I-824 is required with a $405 fee to retrieve I-797 Approval Notice

  • Form G-639 is required with no fee to retrieve Form I-140.


You need both i140 and i797 to extend your H1B after you have used 6 year quota.

If you are trying to get only H1B extention within the first 6 years, then you only need i797.

The only way to get i140 is through USCIS FOIA if your Employer is not sharing it.

I have written detailed process to get i140 through FOIA here:

I cannot comment on other websites articles. Sorry.

Hello @Anil_Gupta,

I’m getting a bit confused with the reference of your term I-797 in your response. The I-797 you mentioned refers to the H1B approval notice (the I-797 form you get when your I-129 gets approved) or I-140 approval notice (the I-797 form received after I-140 gets approved)?

The rest of your response is appreciated.

My reference for i797 is for H1B approval notice.

You are right that both i140 and H1B approval notices are printed on form i797.
But, my answer is specifically for H1B approval notice when i say i797.

Got it. To conclude, I need the I-797 H1B Approval (which I already have) and I-140 Petition copy (not the I-797 from I-140 approval) from FOIA to retain my Priority date and H1B extension after 6 years.

You will need both i797 copies i.e. H1B approval and i140 approval.

In case of i140, if employer is not sharing, USCIS will give you the approved i140 receipt number which is good enough to file extension and retain your priority date.

More information:

Thanks @Anil_Gupta. 100% clear now.

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