Communication from USCIS to Consulates
An alien cannot enter the U.S. simply because USCIS issues an I-797 approval notice. A beneficiary must first obtain a visa from a consulate based on the I-797, or be permitted to enter through a U.S. port of entry (POE) or preflight inspection facility (PFI) based on the I-797. For this to occur, USCIS must somehow communicate the approval to a consular post, POE or PFI.
With the implementation of the Petition Information Management Service, upon approval of the petition, USCIS forwards a copy of the approval and the duplicate petition to the Kentucky Consular Center, which uploads the approval and petition into PIMS. On the day of the interview, the Consular officer accesses the approval and petition by entering the EAC or WAC number found in the upper left-hand corner of the I-797. In general, it takes approximately 72 business hours for PIMS to reflect the approval information. Note, though, that consular posts are prohibited from issuing visas if the approval information is not in PIMS, even if the applicant(s) is armed with the original approval notice. If the approval information is not in PIMS at the time of the interview, the consular post will contact KCC directly to update PIMS, but this may result in an additional two to three day delay.
Although the consular officer has access to a full copy of an approved petition in PIMS, it is usually beneficial for the beneficiary to bring a hard copy to the interview.