If you are a U.S. citizen, and are engaged to someone from another country, you might wish to bring that person 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 (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.
Here are the criteria that must all be met to qualify someone for a K-1 fiancé visa:
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 the meeting requirement.
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 03/21/22.
Under Part 1, the initial questions are addressed to the U.S. citizen petitioner. If you are an immigrant who received 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 and 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, you're 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 U.S., 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, 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 Part 8 of the form (the section for additional information) 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 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, 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.
To accompany Form I-129F, you must provide USCIS with the following:
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.
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.
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.