Petition for Alien Fiancé(e): I-129F

Get tips on how to fill out the initial visa petition for an immigrating fiance.

If you are a U.S. citizen, and are engaged to someone from another country, you may wish to bring that person to the U.S. for the wedding – and for him or her to remain with you after that, as a U.S. permanent resident (green card holder).

The Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), on Form I-129F, is the first step in this process. It allows you to notify U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) that you are engaged to someone from another country, show your intentions to marry, and set in motion the process by which your fiancé will receive the appropriate visa – that is, the K-1 fiance visa.

Using Form I-129F, you may not only petition for your fiancé, but any the children of your fiancé from a previous relationship.

Eligibility for K-1 Fiance Visa

Here are the criteria that must all be met to qualify someone for a K-1 fiancé visa:

  • The U.S.-based spouse must be a citizen, not a permanent resident (green card holder).
  • Both members of the couple must be legally able to marry (single, of the required age in the U.S. state they plan to marry, not blood relations if such a marriage would be prohibited in that state, and if of the same sex, holding the wedding in a state that authorizes gay marriage).
  • The immigrant must have a genuine intention of marrying the U.S. citizen after arriving in the United States.
  • The two of you must have already met in person within the last two years.

As you’ll see below, USCIS will require proof that you meet these criteria.  However, if meeting in person would violate your religious principles or create extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen (for example if the U.S. citizen has severe health problems and cannot travel), you may ask for a waiver of this requirement.

Tips for Filling out Form I-129F

Form I-129F is available for free download on the USCIS website, and you can fill it out on your computer. (But you’ll need to submit it to USCIS by mail.) Also be sure to download the instructions.

Under Part 1 Question 8 as well as Part 2 Question 9, both of which ask about “Marital status,” each of you will need to check the box saying either “single,” "widowed," or "divorced." If either of you is married to someone else, you’re not eligible for this visa.  If you’re already married, then you should be applying for an immigrant visa, which is different than the one described in this article.

If the answer to Part 2. Question 15 is that the foreign-born fiancé happens to already be in the U.S., you may not need a fiancé visa. If the fiancé(e)’s last entry to the U.S. was legal, then the two of you might simply be able to get married and then apply to adjust status to permanent residence. This is true even if your fiancé(e)’s entry visa has already expired. Talk to an attorney to get the details and double check that this will work in your case. (But don’t misinterpret this to mean that your fiancée could make plans to arrive in the U.S., perhaps with a tourist visa or on the visa waiver program, with the unstated intention of marrying you and applying to adjust status – that could result in a finding of visa fraud, which would prohibit your fiancée from receiving a U.S. green card.)

For Question 34a in Part 2, in which you are expected to describe the circumstances under which you met, it’s best to write a statements on a separate piece of paper and simply say in this box, “Please see attached statement.” By providing a detailed statement, you will help convince USCIS that your relationship is the real thing, not just a fraud to get the immigrant a green card.

Part 2 Question 35 as well as Part 3 Questions 2 and 3 reflect the relatively recent International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA). This law is designed to discourage the practice of basically selling people into marriage in the United States, and to protect immigrants from marriage to someone who has been convicted of domestic violence. The information provided here will be used for follow-up investigation. The immigration authorities may disclose information regarding the U.S. citizen’s criminal record to the beneficiary of the K-1 visa petition. If you used a marriage broker, or the U.S. citizen has a criminal record, you should consult an attorney before submitting this form.

Don’t worry about filling in Part 5 unless someone else fills out the form for you, such as a lawyer or paralegal.

Documents to Accompany Form I-129F

To accompany Form I-129 F, you must provide the following additional forms and documentation:

  • Forms G-325A (biographical data) filled out for both the U.S. citizen and the immigrant.
  • One passport-style photo of each of you.
  • Proof of the petitioner’s U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport, certificate of citizenship, naturalization certificate, or consular record of birth abroad.
  • Proof that the two of you can legally marry, such as your birth certificates to show that you are over 18 or whatever the age of consent is in your state, and if either of you has been married before, proof that all prior marriages were legally terminated, such as a divorce decree or death certificate.
  • Proof of your intent to marry, including a statement from the USCIS the petitioner describing how you met, how your relationship developed, why the two of you want to marry, and when you plan to marry.  You may also want to include such items as wedding announcements, catering contracts, a letter or affidavit from your pastor, and so forth.
  • Proof of having met in person within the last two years, such as photographs of the two of you together, copies of plane tickets, and so on. Or, if you haven’t met for religious reasons or due to extreme hardship faced by the U.S. citizen, attach proof of your claimed basis for a waiver.
  • If the U.S. citizen petition or has been convicted of any of the crimes listed and form I-129-F, certified copies of the court and police records.

In addition to the documents, you'll need to pay a filing fee. This is $340 as of 2016. Check the Web link for the form, above, for the latest fee.

Mailing the Fiance Visa Petition

Make a complete copy of the forms, documents, and checks before mailing it. Then send it to the USCIS office named in the instructions. Note that this will be a differerent office than the local one that you can visit in person. Fiance visa petitions can be submitted only by mail.

A few weeks after submitting your petition, the U.S. citizen will get a receipt notice from USCIS. That will contain a tracking number, which you can use on the USCIS website to follow USCIS's progress toward a decision on the petition.

Will You Need a Lawyer?

Due to USCIS's careful scrutiny of marriage cases and the severe consequences of making a mistake on this petition, it would be wise for a U.S. citizen to consult an immigration attorney for help. Attorneys will often charge a flat fee for this type of service.

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