What is Form I-129F?
I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), is the form used for a US Citizen to bring their non-citizen fiance to the United States to get married and then apply for permanent residence. Filing Form I-129F is the first step in the process of getting the K Visa (Fiancé(e) Visa). A K-1 Visa is issued to the foreign fiancé(e) of a U.S. Citizen that allows them to enter the United States temporarily. Upon arriving in the United States, the couple has 90 days to marry. To be eligible for this type of Visa, the couple must meet two primary requirements:
- Have met each other at least once in person within the last two-year period (exemptions are available)
- Both must be legally free to marry in the United States.
When to file Form I-129F:
Filing Form I-129F is the first step toward receiving a Fiancé(e) Visa. This form can be filed as soon as a couple meeting the above requirements is ready to pursue a K visa. Overall timelines for the entire Fiancé(e) visa can take 1-2 years, depending on the timelines of the embassy or consulate where the application is processed.
Generally, this form is filed separately from other forms and doesn’t require any other forms to be filed simultaneously. However, there are connected forms filed following the approval of the I-129F. Below is a brief overview of that process:
Step 1: Petitioner files Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
The petitioner, usually the U.S. Citizen Partner, must file Form I-129F, Petition for an Alien Fiancé(e), with USCIS. The filing fee for this form is currently $535. Find the PDF version of this form and the filing instructions here.
Step 2: Receive Notice of Action (I-797C)
After a few weeks, applicants usually receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action, from USCIS. This indicates that the application has passed basic checks and is awaiting adjudication. During this adjudication, the petition will either be approved or denied. It usually takes anywhere between 8-10 months for a petition to be approved.
Step 3: Approval and Jurisdiction Transfer to National Visa Center
Once USCIS has approved the petition, they transfer jurisdiction of the case to the National Visa Center (NVC), a segment of the U.S. Department of State. Here the NVC will issue the applicants a case number. This case number is very important, so be sure to keep it in a safe place!
Once NVC assigns the application a case number, it will forward the I-129F packet (application) to the embassy of the home country of the foreign fiancé(e).
Step 4: Filing for a K-1 Visa (Form DS-160)
After the application has been forwarded to the embassy closest to where the foreign fiancé(e) lives, the applicant is then able to fill out Form DS-160 to apply for their K-1 Visa and pay their DS-160 Filing Fees ($265). Form DS-160 is filled out and submitted online. To access the form, click here. For answers to frequently asked questions about Form DS-160, check out this helpful link!
Be sure to keep the following information for your records
- The USCIS receipt number. It is also known as a case number.
- Principal Applicant
- Interview location
Step 5: Schedule and Have an Interview
Once the status of the case is “Ready,” the applicant can reach out to their local U.S. embassy and schedule their K-1 Visa Interview. However, Form DS-160 must be submitted, the medical examination must have taken place, and the application fees must be paid before the interview can take place. The applicant should ensure they bring all required documents to the interview to avoid delays or complications. This includes the receipt number from their application payment and the printed confirmation information for their completed DS-160 application.
Step 6: Visa Granted, Enters USA
If their visa is granted, the foreign fiancé(e) will get a visa stamp in their passport, which can then be used to enter the United States within 4 months of its issuance. Remember that this is a temporary Visa, so be sure to enter the U.S. before it expires.
Step 7: Get Married Within 90 Days of Entry
After entry into the United States, applicants have 90 days to get married. This is because the Fiancé(e) status automatically expires 90 days after admission and cannot be extended. The applicant must leave the United States at the end of the 90 days if they are not yet married.
Call-out: When marriage does not happen within 90 days, AND the fiancé(e) does not depart, they will violate U.S. immigration law. This could affect their future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits and may result in removal r(deportation).
Step 8: Apply for Adjustment of Status to Gain Permanent Residency
After marriage, the next step is for the couple to file for a green card (Form I-485, Adjustment of Status). If the foreign partner intends to work in the U.S. or travel outside the country while their application is being processed, they must also file for a Work and Travel Permit (Forms I-765 and I-131, respectively) and From I-864, Affidavit of Support. Filing these forms concurrently with Form I-485 results in waiving their fees.
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