Preparing the Form I-129F Fiancé Visa Petition

How a U.S. citizen should start the process of bringing a foreign-born person to the U.S. for purposes of getting married.

In order to being the process of applying for a K-1 fiancé visa (which allows a foreign citizen to enter the U.S and spend 90 days, with the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen), the first person that the U.S. government wants to hear from is the U.S. citizen half of the couple. He or she will be responsible for preparing what’s called a fiancé visa petition, on Form I-129F. It's available as a free download on the Form I-129F page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Make sure to get the most recent version of this form—USCIS will not accept out-of-date versions. This discussion refers to the version of the form issued 12/23/2016 (expiring 8/31/2018).

The purpose of this petition is to alert the immigration authorities that the U.S. citizen fiancé is planning to marry the immigrant fiance and is willing to participate in the visa application process. The immigrant plays a minor role at this step, but should help the petitioning fiancé gather information and documents.

Line-by-Line Instructions for I-129F Visa Petition

This section will give you precise instructions for filling out Form I-129F.



Don’t confuse your forms. Form I-129F is the proper one to use for a fiancé visa petition. There is another USCIS form called simply I-129, without the letter F. It is completely different (and much longer), so don’t mix the two up!

Form I-129F asks first for information about the U.S. citizen half of the couple (the "petitioner") then asks for information about the immigrating fiancé.

Part 1. Information About You

Question 1: The U.S. citizen fiancé must enter his/her last name (surname) first, preferably in all capital letters, then his or her other name(s). For example, if the name is Sam Lawrence Cole, enter “COLE” in the first box, “Sam” in the second box, and “Lawrence” in the third box. Always spell out the entire middle name.

Question 2: Self-explanatory.

Question 3: The U.S. citizen will have an A-number only if he or she once held a green card (permanent residence).

Questions 4-7: Self-explanatory.

Question 8: Check only one box, and make sure it is not the one that says “married.” The couple can’t be already married and use a K-1 fiancé visa.

Question 9: If the U.S. citizen has had other names by previous marriages, include these here, as well as any legal name changes.

Question 10: Self-explanatory.

Questions 11-12: There’s a reason for these questions: The U.S. citizen fiancé’s prior marriages must have ended before he or she is eligible to sponsor the immigrant. Make sure that under Date Marriage Ended you give the date the divorce became final, not the date you two split up housekeeping. USCIS will accept only a final divorce as proof that the marriage ended.

Question 13: If the U.S. citizen fiancé’s citizenship was obtained through naturalization, the number can be found at the top right-hand side of the naturalization certificate. The date and place issued are also shown on the certificate.

Question 14: If the U.S. citizen has tried to or succeeded in sponsoring other fiancés, USCIS will surely take a look at those files to make sure there was no fraud involved. The agency knows that it is possible for a U.S. citizen to fall in love with more than one foreign-born person, and for the first marriage to end. But there are U.S. citizens who charge money to marry and sponsor noncitizens, and USCIS is on the lookout for them.

Part 2 Information About Your Alien Fiancé(e):

Now we are back to the foreign-born fiancé.

Questions 1-8: Self-explanatory.

Question 9: Check only one box, and make sure it is not the one that says “married.”

Question 10: If the foreign-born fiancé has had other names by previous marriages, include these here, as well as any legal name changes.

Question 11: The Alien Registration Number or A-Number is an eight- or nine-digit number following the letter “A” (for “Alien”) that USCIS (or the former INS) assigns to people who applied for permanent or in some cases temporary residence, or have been in deportation/removal proceedings.

Question 12: The immigrant won’t have a Social Security number unless he or she has lived in the United States.

Questions 13 and 14: These questions relate to the eligibility requirement that previous marriages must have ended through valid means such as divorce or death.

Question 15: You most likely will not need to fill out this question, assuming that the immigrant is not in the United States. (If the immigrant is visiting, remember that he or she will need to return home in order to complete the fiance visa application process—and must do so in a timely manner.)

Questions 16-27: This refers to all the immigrant's children, whether born of this current relationship or a previous one. See Bringing Children Along on a K-1 Fiance Visa (K-2 Visas) for more on this.

Questions 28-29: Hopefully the intended address in the United States is the same as that of the U.S. citizen fiancé, or USCIS will raise questions. Even if the two of you will spend some time apart, such as for school or work, the married home should be the immigrant's permanent address. If there is a compelling reason that the immigrant will have a completely separate residence, attach documents to explain why, or consult with a lawyer.

Question 30: Enter your phone number, including any code numbers that someone calling long distance would need to use.

Questions 31-32: If the visa applicant's native language uses a non-Roman script (for example, Russian, Chinese, or Arabic) write the name and address in that script.

Question 33: If you and your fiancé are related by blood, you will need to make sure that marriage between you is legally permissible in the U.S. state where it will take place.

Question 34: There's not enough space in which to fully answer this question, so you will want to check yes and attach a page to describe your meeting. Or, if you have to check no, this separate page is where you would need to explain why you qualify for a waiver of the personal meeting requirement. Although the main purpose is to show that you have fulfilled the personal meeting requirement, this statement presents a fine opportunity to include extra detail about your life with your fiancé. The idea is to show USCIS that this is a real relationship. Give enough personal detail that USCIS sees that you are for real, not just making empty statements.

Question 35: This question results from a relatively recent focus of Congressional concern regarding so-called “mail-order” spouses (who meet through the services of an international matchmaking agency). This group has been shown to be especially susceptible to domestic violence and abuse by the U.S. citizen petitioners. In response, Congress passed the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA). IMBRA requires a statement as whether the two of you met through an international marriage broker. If so, you must give information about the broker.

Question 36: Enter the name of the U.S. consulate with a visa processing office in the visa applicant's country; or if none exists, the one with power to handle visa requests from that country. (Don’t fret too much about getting it wrong; USCIS will redirect your application for you when it approves the petition.)

Part 3. Other Information

Now the questions once again refer to the U.S. citizen petitioner.

Question 1: This needs to be filled out only if the U.S. citizen is in the U.S. military and is stationed overseas (in which case the visa processing procedures may need to be adjusted accordingly).

Questions 2-3: If the U.S. citizen petitioner has a history of violent crime, crime relating to alcohol, or controlled substance abuse, he or she may be required to reveal this to USCIS. The petitioner should see an attorney if there is any question about whether this section applies. The fiance visa applicant will also be told of any relevant history.

Question 4: This needs to be filled out only if the petitioner has previously filed two or more I-129F visa petitions for other foreign-born fiancés. Definitely get a lawyer’s help if this is the case—USCIS is sure to deny the petition without also receiving a convincing request for a waiver of the “multiple filing restriction.”

Part 4. Signature of Petitioner

The U.S. citizen needs to sign and date the form and include contact information.

Part 5. Signature of Person Preparing This Petition, If Other Than the Petitioner

This need not be filled in if you just got a little help from a friend. This line is mainly for lawyers or agencies who fill out these forms on others’ behalf. They will know what to do here.

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