Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is filed by U.S. employers sponsoring foreign nationals for employment in the United States. In addition to the main form (the first eight of 26 total pages, as of 2019), employers must complete the supplement that corresponds to the visa category being requested.
For example, if submitting an E-1 petition, the employer must submit the first eight pages of the I-129 and also pages nine and ten (of the 2019 version of the form).
This guide covers the most commonly used supplements, with step-by-step instructions for the key parts. For legal information and help completing the I-129 form itself, please see this page.
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The I-129 E-1/E-2 Classification Supplement to USCIS Form I-129 must be completed when a foreign national is already in the United States and is seeking to change or extend status in one of the following visa classifications:
These visa classifications are based on treaties of friendship, commerce, and navigation between the United States and the country of which the beneficiary is a national. The Department of State maintains an online list of eligible treaty countries.
The first four questions on the E-1/E-2 Classification Supplement identify the petitioner (i.e. employer), beneficiary, requested visa classification, and the treaty country. The fifth question asks whether you would like USCIS to determine whether any proposed changes in the employee’s work conditions are “substantive” and therefore require an amended petition; though most employers would be better served by consulting with an immigration attorney than presenting such a question to USCIS.
The remaining sections seek to establish the eligibility for the requested visa classification. Substantial documentation will have to be submitted with the petition to support all the information provided in this supplement.
Section one of this supplement must be completed if the beneficiary is coming to the United States as an employee from the treaty country. The employer must provide basic information about the business in addition to identifying its principal product, merchandise, or service. It must also provide the beneficiary’s title, job duties, and years employed.
The employer should take care in describing the beneficiary’s experience with the company. The regulations state that an employee can come to the United States in the E-1 or E-2 visa classification only if he or she is employed as a manager, supervisor, or executive, or has special qualifications that make his or her services essential to the company’s operation.
If the beneficiary is a manager, supervisor, or executive, the employer must show that the job duties provide ultimate control and responsibility for the employer’s overall operation or a major component of it. If the beneficiary is a non-supervisory employee with special qualifications, the employer must show the uniqueness of the beneficiary’s skills and expertise and how they are indispensable to the success of the business.
Section two of this supplement asks for information about the employer in the United States. One of the primary eligibility factors for the E-1 and E-2 visa classifications is that the employer in the United States (whether an individual or company) shares the same nationality as the beneficiary. Questions one through three in this section seek to establish this by identifying the relationship between the foreign and U.S. companies and by identifying the nationality and immigration status of the owners.
If the employer is an individual, he or she either must be in the United States in E-1 or E-2 status, or, if outside the United States, must be eligible for E-1 or E-2 status. Similarly, if the employer is a company, at least 50% of its owners must share the nationality of the beneficiary and be in the United States in E-1 or E-2 status or, if abroad, be eligible for E-1 or E-2 status. If the owner is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and a citizen of the beneficiary’s country, his or her ownership will not be counted towards establishing the company’s nationality.
Questions four through six request the U.S. company’s assets, net worth, and net annual income.
Question seven seeks information about the company’s current makeup of employees who are already in the United States in E or L status, as well as the total number of employees who are managers, supervisors, executives, or have special qualifications. Question eight seeks to establish the beneficiary’s eligibility for the sponsored position by identifying the number of employees he or she would supervise, or the special qualifications that are essential to the business’s operation.
This section needs to be completed only if the beneficiary is seeking the E-1 visa classification.
There are three questions that identify the annual gross trade/business of the U.S. company and the percentage of total gross trade between the United States and the applicable treaty country. USCIS is looking to identify whether the volume of international trade between the United States and the treaty country is substantial. Substantial has been defined to mean an amount of trade sufficient to ensure a continuous flow of international trade between the two countries. The company’s international trade also must be more than 50% with the treaty country.
This section needs to be completed only if the beneficiary is seeking the E-2 visa classification. It asks for the total investment made in cash, equipment, inventory, or premises, with a section to identify any investment that does not fall into one of these categories. USCIS is looking for a substantial investment. Substantial is determined by the following test:
The I-129 Supplement for H Classification needs to be completed by employer petitioners sponsoring a foreign national in any primary H visa classification. These classifications include H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3. (Also see Improving Your Changes of Getting an H-1B Visa.)
The first seven questions in this supplement must be answered by all H petitioners. These identify the petitioner, the foreign national beneficiary, the classification being sought, whether the beneficiary is now or previously was subject to the Guam-CNMI cap (concerning certain H-1B and H-2B workers in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), and whether the beneficiary owns any part of the employer/petitioner.
The petitioner must also list the dates that the beneficiary has been in the United States in a principal H or L status (not as a spouse or child dependent) to determine how much H time the beneficiary has left before reaching the maximum allowed under that visa classification.
The time spent in a principal L status is relevant because it is subtracted from the six years permitted for the H-1B classification. If the beneficiary has never been to the United States in a principal H or L status, this section can be left blank. As noted above, time spent in a dependent H status does not need to be mentioned.
The remainder of the supplement is divided into different sections specific to each H classification. The employer-petitioner must complete and file only the section that pertains to the H classification it is requesting.
Section one needs to be completed by petitioners requesting that a worker receive H-1B classification. This section asks for a description of the proposed job duties and the beneficiary’s prior work experience. The petitioner can reference the H-1B support letter, in order to avoid listing all the job duties in the space provided. Likewise, the support letter can outline the beneficiary’s work history and be referenced in the space provided for prior work experience.
This section also includes important statements that the petitioner needs to review and sign. A common error petitioners make is failing to sign all the statements. Most petitioners will have to provide at least two signatures concerning a commitment to pay the beneficiary’s wages while employed in H-1B status and offer to provide return transportation to the beneficiary’s last country of residence abroad if the employer terminates the beneficiary’s employment. A third signature is required if the beneficiary will be working on a U.S. Department of Defense project.
Section two needs to be completed by petitioners requesting that a worker receive H-2A or H-2B classification. H-2A status is reserved for temporary agricultural workers, while H-2B status is reserved for temporary non-agricultural workers. In this section, the petitioner has to provide information about its temporary need for the beneficiary.
The petitioner must also disclose the beneficiary’s country of citizenship. Only certain countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs. A list of eligible countries is provided on the USCIS website. The petitioner must check this list before completing the form. If the beneficiary is not from one of these countries, questions five and six must be completed. Question five asks for the beneficiary’s biographic information.
Question six asks about the beneficiary’s prior stay in the United States in H-2A or H-2B status. If the beneficiary has held one of these statuses in the past, evidence will need to be provided that the beneficiary maintained lawful status during that time.
Evidence will also have to be provided that the petitioner was unable to find a qualified worker from an eligible country and that the U.S. interest will be served by granting the requested status. If the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security agrees that it is in the country’s interest to grant the beneficiary H-2A or H-2B status, the petition may be approved.
Questions seven to ten ask about the petitioner’s use of a recruiting or placement service to locate the beneficiary. If the beneficiary paid a fee as a result of the service used, the petitioner has to reimburse the fee. These questions seek to clarify that the petitioner has complied with this requirement.
Question 11 asks about “interruptions” (time outside the U.S.) in the worker’s stay to determine how much remaining H time is available.
Question 12 requires H-2A petitioners to include their E-Verify information. E-Verify is an Internet-based program that allows employers to find out whether their employees are eligible to work in the United States.
The petitioner should read the statement on page 17 carefully before signing the H Classification Supplement. It includes terms and conditions the petitioner must comply with regarding site visits and reporting requirements. Petitioners should take care to sign all relevant signature lines.
This section needs to be completed by a petitioner sponsoring a foreign national as a trainee or special education exchange visitor in H-3 status. An H-3 petitioner may not be an employer if it does not intend to employ the beneficiary abroad after the training program is completed.
This section includes a series of questions about the beneficiary’s training. The petitioner must provide a complete explanation for responses to questions as appropriate to demonstrate the reasons for the training, how the beneficiary will resume employment abroad after the training, and what benefit the petitioner receives from providing the training.. The explanations can be provided in a formal letter attached to the I-129 petition as a supporting document. H-3 petitioners are not required to sign the H Classification Supplement.
The I-129 Supplement for H-1B Data Collection needs to be completed by employers sponsoring a foreign national for an H-1B or H-1B1 visa on Form I-129. This supplementary form collects data about the employer and the foreign national beneficiary in order to determine:
Section 1 of this supplement asks a series of questions to identify whether an employer is H-1B “dependent” (by reaching a certain number of H-1B workers in comparison to its overall workforce) or has been found by the government to be a “willful violator” of H-1B rules. Employers should be familiar with what an H-1B dependent employer is in order to answer these questions. An H-1B dependent employer is one that either:
H-1B dependent employers, and those found to be willful violators, are subject to additional rules. These rules include submitting an attestation that U.S. workers are not being displaced and that the employer made a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers before filing the H-1B petition. This section asks whether the H-1B beneficiary (the worker) is exempt from the H-1B dependent attestation requirement. A beneficiary will be exempt if he or she has a master’s or higher degree in a specialty related to the occupation, or is being paid an annual salary of at least $60,000.
The remaining questions ask about the beneficiary’s education and occupation. Most of these questions are straightforward and the employer should remember the following to avoid confusion:
Section 2 of this supplement asks the employer a series of questions to determine whether it is exempt from paying the ACWIA fee. The ACWIA fee is $1,500 for employers who have more than 25 full-time employees, and $750 for employers who have fewer than 25 full-time employees. (2019 figures.)
If the employer answers yes to any of the questions in Section 2, it is exempt from the fee for this petition. Employers who are exempt from this fee include institutions of higher education, entities related to or affiliated with institutions of higher education, and certain nonprofit organizations. The I-129 instruction packet defines what types of nonprofit organizations qualify for the exemption.
Employers filing the I-129 petition to correct an error or to amend a prior petition are also exempt from paying the ACWIA fee as long as they are not requesting an extension of stay. The ACWIA fee needs to be paid only for the initial petition and the first extension of stay for the same worker/beneficiary.
Section 3 includes a series of statements to determine whether the petition is subject to the annual H-1B cap. If any of these statements apply to the petition, it will not be subject to the H-1B cap.
The H-1B cap was established by the federal government to limit the number of H-1B petitions granted each year. A certain number of petitions are reserved for beneficiaries who have a master’s degree or higher related to the occupation. Beneficiaries granted H-1B status in the six years prior to filing the petition will not be subject to the cap. The employer itself can be cap-exempt if it meets certain criteria, which are outlined in this section. Employers will notice that if they are exempt from paying the ACWIA fee, they are generally exempt from the H-1B cap as well.
Section 4 includes a series of statements that need to be addressed by employers who will have the beneficiary work off-site. If an H-1B beneficiary will be working at additional sites during the H-1B period, the employer has to pay a wage that will be at or above the prevailing wage at all locations where the beneficiary will work.
The I-129 O and P Classification Supplement needs to be completed (along with Form I-129) by petitioners sponsoring foreign nationals in any principal (worker) O or P visa status. The purpose of this supplement is to notify USCIS of the particular O or P classification being sought and to provide additional information needed to determine the beneficiary’s eligibility.
The first three questions on the form identify the petitioner (employer), the beneficiary (worker), and the O or P classification being sought on the worker's behalf. If the petitioner is submitting an I-129 petition on behalf of a group, the total number of workers should be provided for question two instead of a beneficiary’s name.
Questions four and five ask the petitioner to describe the nature of the event and the duties to be performed by the beneficiary. The answers provided for both of these questions need to be consistent with the qualifications of the sponsored beneficiary. The intent of the O and P visa categories is to allow exceptional foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily to work and/or perform in the same area in which they have developed extraordinary ability and/or international recognition. For example, a red flag may be raised if a foreign national is being sponsored as an alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences to perform basic research tasks in the field of oncology when he or she has achieved exceptional recognition as a leader in the field of diabetes research.
The petitioner need not provide an exhaustive description of the event and job duties on the supplement. The supporting documents should include a support letter that has this level of detail. The answers given on the supplement should at least be consistent with what is described in the support letter.
Question six of the supplement needs to be completed when the petitioner is sponsoring a beneficiary in the O-2 or P support classifications. The O-2 classification is reserved for foreign nationals who are coming to the United States for the sole purpose of assisting in the performance of an O-1 artist or athlete. The P support classification is similarly reserved for foreign nationals coming to the United States as an essential and integral part of the competition or performance of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 entertainer or athlete.
Question six asks the petitioner to identify the dates of the beneficiary’s prior work experience under the principal O-1 or P visa holder. What USCIS is trying to establish with these dates is the extent of the experience the beneficiary has had with the primary visa holder. Both the O and P support classifications require that the beneficiary have critical skills that are integral to the primary visa holder’s performance and that are not possessed by U.S. workers.
Question seven asks if the beneficiary owns any part of the petitioner. If yes, there is a line to explain the ownership.
Questions eight and nine of the supplement ask the petitioner to identify whether an appropriate labor organization exists and whether a written advisory opinion is being submitted with the petition. The labor organization (also referred to in the regulations as a “peer group”) must consist of practitioners in the beneficiary’s occupation. The purpose of the advisory opinion is to provide an assessment of the beneficiary’s qualifications and of the work being done.
If an appropriate labor organization exists but is not providing a written advisory opinion, the petitioner will have to identify the organization on the supplement and send it a copy of the petition. USCIS will contact this organization for an advisory opinion, so the petitioner should warn it about this in advance.
If an appropriate labor organization does not exist for the area in which the beneficiary will be working, the petitioner will have to answer no to question seven and N/A to question eight regarding the advisory opinion. An addendum should be attached to the I-129 petition explaining that an appropriate organization does not exist, and the petitioner should submit support letters from recognized experts in the field who can attest to the beneficiary’s qualifications and the work being done.
Section 2 requires the petitioner to sign a statement agreeing to provide the beneficiary with return transportation to the last county of residence abroad if the petitioner terminates the beneficiary’s employment before the end of the requested period of employment.
The I-129 L Classification Supplement must be completed by employers sponsoring a foreign national in the L-1A or L-1B visa classification (along with the primary Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker that the employer will submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)). The L-1 visa classification was created for intracompany transferees between a United States company and its foreign parent, subsidiary, branch and/or affiliate. The L-1A visa is for manager and executive transferees, and the L-1B visa is for transferees with specialized knowledge.
The first two questions of this supplement identify the petitioner and the beneficiary. The petitioner for the L visa classification is always the employer located in the United States. The beneficiary is the foreign visa applicant.
Question three asks the petitioner whether it is filing an individual or a “blanket” petition. An individual petition is filed for a specific foreign national transferee. A blanket petition is filed when the employer is seeking continued approval to transfer employees from its specified parent, branches, subsidiaries and/or affiliates. If approved, a blanket petition enables a transferee from one of the specified companies abroad to apply for an L-1 visa directly at the consulate without having to wait for USCIS to approve an individual I-129 petition filed on his or her behalf. The petitioner has to meet several regulatory requirements to qualify for a blanket petition.
Question four helps the petitioner determine whether it needs to pay an additional fee ($4,000 for an H-1B visa or $4,500 for an L visa, as of 2019) with the I-129 petition. This fee applies to petitioners who have more than 50 employees in the United States, where more than 50% of them are in H-1B or L status.
Section one needs to be completed only if the petitioner is filing an individual petition. For questions one and two, the petitioner has to designate the specific L-1 status being sought and identify whether or not the beneficiary has been in the United States in L-1 or H-1B status in the seven-year period preceding the petition. The dates spent in either status need to be provided in the space available. These dates are important because a foreign national is allowed a total of only six years in H-1B status, five years in L-1B status, and seven years in L-1A status. Time spent in either visa classification will count towards the total allowable period.
Questions three and four ask for basic information about the employer abroad. Questions five and six ask about the beneficiary’s dates of employment with the employer abroad and job duties for the three-year period preceding admission to the United States. Transferees must have been employed for one continuous year with the qualified company abroad to be eligible for L-1 sponsorship in the United States. Their experience must also reflect that they are eligible as managers or executives, or as employees with specialized knowledge.
Question seven asks for a description of the beneficiary’s proposed job duties in the United States. If the petitioner is seeking an L-1A visa, the job duties must clearly establish that the beneficiary will be working in a managerial or executive capacity. If the petitioner is seeking an L-1Bvisa, the job duties must clearly establish that the beneficiary has specialized knowledge. Specialized knowledge is defined in the regulations as knowledge of the petitioner’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests, and its application in international markets. It can also include advanced knowledge or expertise in the petitioner’s processes and procedures. Question eight asks for a summary of the beneficiary’s education and work experience.
Questions nine through eleven establish the relationship between the petitioner in the United States and the employer abroad. Question nine lists the qualifying relationships for the L-1 visa classification; the petitioner must identify which one applies.
Question ten asks for a description of the stock ownership and managerial control for each company with a qualifying relationship.
Question eleven asks whether the identified relationship between the companies existed for the duration of the beneficiary’s one-year period of employment abroad. If the qualifying relationship was different during that period, an explanation must be provided as to what the relationship was before, and when it changed. Supporting documents of the prior relationship should also be included.
Question twelve asks whether the beneficiary is coming to the United States to open a new office. If so, certain regulatory criteria need to be satisfied before the person can be granted L-1 status. The required explanation should satisfy these criteria.
Question thirteen needs to be answered only if the beneficiary is being sponsored for L-1B status. This question asks whether the beneficiary will be employed primarily offsite. Offsite is the site of an employer who is not the petitioner. If the answer is yes, the petitioner needs to provide an explanation in the space provided as to why offsite employment is necessary, how the petitioner’s specialized knowledge is needed for the duties to be performed, and how the petitioner will maintain sufficient control over the beneficiary while working offsite.
Section two needs to be completed only if the petitioner is submitting a blanket petition. An employer is only eligible for a blanket petition if it has at least three domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates. The petitioner also must have obtained ten L-1 petition approvals in the last year, have U.S. operations with combined revenue of $25 million, or have at least 1,000 employees in the United States. This section requires the petitioner to list all of its domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates that will be included in the petition for international transferees.
Section three of this supplement provides an explanation of the additional fees that must be paid by the petitioner for the L-1 visa classification. Supporting Documentation Documents must be submitted with the I-129 petition that support all the information provided in this supplement.
The I-129 R-1 Classification Supplement must be completed (in addition to the basic Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) by a U.S. petitioning employer seeking to sponsor a foreign national to come to the United States in the R-1 temporary religious worker visa classification. The petitioner must be a nonprofit religious organization or a nonprofit organization affiliated with a religious denomination. The beneficiary (the intending visa applicant) must use the R-1 visa classification to perform the following type of work:
The R-1 Classification Supplement covers pages 30 to 35 of the I-129 Form, and asks questions about both the petitioning organization and the foreign national beneficiary. These seek to establish both eligibility for the R-1 visa classification as well as the legitimacy of the petitioning organization’s status as a religious organization (or one affiliated with a religious denomination) and the beneficiary’s qualifications.
The I-129 petition must be submitted with extensive documentation supporting all the information provided in this supplement. The R-1 religious worker visa program has been abused, with many incidents of fraud reported in the past. Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) heavily scrutinizes these petitions.
Section one of the R-1 Classification Supplement consists of all the questions asked in this supplement. These questions make up an employer attestation that must be signed by the petitioner under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States.
Questions 1.a. to 1.d. ask for information regarding the number of members and employees of the petitioning organization. This includes the number of employees who have held R-1 or special immigrant status in the previous five years. Special immigrant status refers to beneficiaries of an I-360 immigrant petition for special immigrant. The petitioner would have filed an I-360 petition if it sponsored a foreign religious worker for permanent residence in the United States.
Question two identifies whether the beneficiary and his or her dependent family members were in the United States in R status during the five-year period preceding the filing of the petition. A foreign national can hold R-1 status for only five years, and this question identifies how much time the beneficiary has left. If the answer is yes, the dates of the prior stay must be included in the table following the question.
Question three asks for the position title and a summary of responsibilities for all employees hired at the location where the beneficiary will be working. If there is not enough space to include everyone, attach an addendum with the remaining employees’ information. The petitioner must not omit any employee from this section, regardless of how trivial his or her role may seem.
Question four asks about the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary’s religious organization abroad. This relationship is not required for the R-1 visa classification, but it must be disclosed if it exists. Disclosing this relationship will also further establish the petitioner’s legitimate status and the beneficiary’s qualifications.
Questions 5.a. to 5.e. ask for the following information about the beneficiary’s proposed employment:
The information provided for question five must be as detailed as possible. For example, the petitioner should include an itinerary, down to the hour if possible, describing the beneficiary’s daily duties.
The petitioner should also refer to the supporting documents whenever it is appropriate to do so. For example, if the beneficiary will not be paid, the petitioner is required to have documentation showing that the position is part of an established program for temporary uncompensated missionary work that is part of a broader international program sponsored by the religious denomination. This documentation should be referenced in the space that's provided for describing the beneficiary’s compensation.
Questions six through 12 are a series of statements that the petitioner must attest to. The petitioner must read each statement carefully and answer truthfully. A negative answer will not necessarily result in a denial. The petitioner is given space to provide an explanation. If an explanation is needed, it must be thorough and supported by documentation if possible. If USCIS is satisfied with the explanation and it does not render the petitioner and/or the beneficiary ineligible for R-1 status, there is still a chance the petition will be approved.
Following question 12 is the signature section. The petitioner must understand the penalties of perjury in the United States and feel confident that all the information provided in the supplement is truthful before signing.
Section two needs to be completed only by R-1 petitioners affiliated with a religious denomination. This section is a religious denomination certificate that certifies that the petitioner is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the religious denomination identified on the supplement. The petitioner must understand the penalties of perjury in the U.S. before signing the certificate.
Numbered page 35 of the I-129 Form is for R-1 petitions when the petitioner is sponsoring more than one person. The petitioner completes Attachment-1 for each additional person.
The I-129 Trade Agreement Supplement needs to be completed by employers sponsoring foreign nationals in a nonimmigrant visa classification based on a free trade agreement between the United States and the beneficiary’s country of citizenship. It is meant to be included with USCIS Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
The first two questions identify the employer and beneficiary. Questions three and four ask whether or not the employer is a U.S. or foreign employer, because, unlike most nonimmigrant visa classifications, foreign employers are eligible to sponsor foreign nationals to work in the United States under one of these visa classifications.
Section 1 of this supplement asks the employer to check the applicable free trade agreement visa classification. These classifications include the following:
The TN and H-1B1 visa classifications are alternatives to the H-1B visa classification, which is reserved for eligible foreign nationals who are coming to the United States to work in a specialty occupation. Citizens of Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Singapore are also eligible for the H-1B visa classification. Employers, therefore, do not need to complete this supplement if sponsoring a beneficiary from one of these countries for the H-1B classification.
Section 2 includes a declaration for the employer to sign, attesting that the petition and supporting evidence are true and correct. A designated official of the employer should sign this section, preferably in black ink.
Section 3 needs to be signed only if the petition was prepared by an individual who did not sign part two. If the employer retained an attorney to prepare the petition, the attorney should sign here, preferably in black ink.