Petition for Alien Fiancé(e): I-129F

If you are a U.S. citizen, and are engaged to someone from another country whom you wish to bring to the U.S. for the wedding—and perhaps for him or her to remain with you in the U.S. after that, as a lawful permanent resident—start by preparing the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), on Form I-129F.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

If you are a U.S. citizen, and are engaged to someone from another country, you might wish to bring that person to the United States for the wedding—and perhaps for them to remain with you in the U.S. after that, as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). (See I.N.A. § 214, or 8 U.S.C. § 1184.)

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

Using Form I-129F, you may not only petition for your fiancé, but children of your fiancé from a previous relationship, so long as they are unmarried and have not yet turned 21.

Eligibility for K-1 Fiancé 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 (even if the meeting was before your romantic relationship began).

As you will 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 USCIS for a waiver of the meeting 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.

The following tips refer to the version of the form issued on 04/01/24.

Under Part 1, the initial questions are addressed to the U.S. citizen petitioner. If you are an immigrant who received U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, fill in your Alien Registration Number in Question 1. If not, leave it blank.

Question 2 also will not apply to you unless you were an immigrant; and not all immigrants have a USCIS online account number. It depends if you registered to use this service. Leave it blank if you don't have one.

You should have a Social Security Number, however.

We're assuming in this article that you're applying for a visa for someone to whom you're not yet married. On that basis, the appropriate answer to Question 4 is to check the box for 4.a.

For Questions 37-39 of Part 1 and later Part 2 Questions 6 and 34-36, both the U.S. citizen and visa applicant will need to provide information indicating that they are either single, widowed, or divorced. If either of you is married to someone else, the foreign national is not eligible for the K-1 visa. An intending immigrant who is already married to a U.S. citizen should be applying for either a K-3 visa (which is hardly used, because of various disadvantages) or a marriage-based immigrant visa, which is different than the one described in this article.

If, in Part 2, the address given for the foreign-born fiancé(e) is in the United States, and your answer to Question 38 is also that the person is indeed already be in the U.S., you might not need a fiancé visa at all. 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 apply to adjust status to permanent residence. This is true even if your fiancé(e)'s U.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 (VWP), 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(e) from receiving a U.S. green card at all.)

For Question 54 in Part 2, in which you are expected to describe the circumstances under which you met, you'll notice that there are only a few lines. It's best to write a statement in the Part 8, Additional Information portion of the form and simply say in the Question 54 box, "Please see Part 8." By providing a detailed statement, including dates, places, and descriptions, you will help convince USCIS that your relationship is the bona fide, real thing, not just a fraud to get the immigrant a green card.

Part 2 Questions 55-61 as well as various questions in Part 3 reflect the 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 will be used for follow-up investigation. U.S. immigration authorities may disclose information regarding the U.S. citizen's criminal record to the foreign-born beneficiary of the K-1 petition. If you used a marriage broker to match you, or if the U.S. citizen has a criminal record, consult an attorney before submitting this form.

Part 4 refers to the U.S. citizen, asking for more biographical information.

Be sure to sign your (the U.S. citizen's) name in Part 5.

Don't worry about filling in Parts 6 and 7 unless someone else fills out the form for you and/or assists you in translating your words into English, such as an interpreter, lawyer, or paralegal.

Part 8 is where you can put any information too lengthy to fit in the rest of the form. You can make multiple copies of it, if needed.

Documents to Accompany Form I-129F

To accompany Form I-129F, you must provide USCIS with the following:

  • One passport-style photo of each of you, taken no more than 30 days before you submit the petition. (It's best to go to a professional for these.)
  • Proof of the petitioner's U.S. citizenship, such as a copy of a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, certificate of U.S. citizenship, U.S. naturalization certificate, or U.S. consular record of birth abroad.
  • Proof that the two of you can legally marry, such as copies of your birth certificates to show that you are over 18 or whatever the age of consent is in the state where the wedding will take place, 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 U.S. petitioner describing how you met, how your relationship developed, why the two of you want to marry, and when you plan to marry. You might 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 on 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. Check the Web link for the Form I-129F for the latest fee.

Mailing the I-129F 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, using a mailing method (U.S. Postal Service or some other courier) that comes with a tracking method and proof of delivery. Note that the USCIS office you send your package to will be a different one than the local one applicants sometimes visit in person. Fiancé(e) 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 USCIS's website to follow USCIS's progress toward a decision on the petition.

Will You Need a Lawyer's Help With the K-1 Petition?

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. See How Much Does a Lawyer Cost for a Family or Fiancé Visa Application? for details.

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