If you are married to a U.S. citizen, and have chosen to apply for a K-3 visa (a variant of the fiance visa) for U.S. entry, followed by submitting an adjustment of status application in the United States, then one of the forms the U.S. citizen spouse will need to fill out is Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This article will go through how to prepare Form I-129F and assemble the requisite documents that go with it.
But first, a warning: You may well be wasting your energy and money in seeking a K-3. While the K-3 visa was originally meant to save time in getting the immigrant to the U.S., it hasn't lived up to that hope, and is a lot more expensive than a regular immigrant visa to boot. So continue with the process described in this article only if you've ascertained that something has changed recently and you may yet save time with a K-3 visa. (Your best bet is to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer for the latest news.)
The purpose of Form I-129F is to indicate that you are interested in a K-3 visa. The U.S. citizen spouse will need to file this form with whichever USCIS Service Center in the United States sent the a receipt notice saying it got the original visa petition on Form I-130.
Line-by-Line Instructions for Form I-129F Visa Petition
The first thing to notice about Form I-129F is that is called "Petition for Alien Fiance." The form is also used by unmarried fiancés, so don’t be worried if some questions don’t apply to you. Someday, USCIS may revise this form to take K-3 applicants into account, but it hasn't happened yet (as of mid-2013).
The next thing to notice about this form is that it runs in two columns. The left column, or Section A, asks for information about the U.S. citizen fiancé. The right column asks for information about the immigrating (“alien”) fiancé—which in your case means spouse.
Question 1: The U.S. citizen spouse must enter his/her last name (surname) in all capital letters, but the other names in small letters. For example, if the U.S. spouse’s name were Samuel Lawrence Anderson, he would enter, “ANDERSON” in the first box, “Samuel” in the second box, and “Lawrence” in the third. (Always spell out the entire middle name.)
Questions 2-5: Self-explanatory.
Question 6: Check the box that says “Married.” Only check one box (so that, for example, if the U.S. spouse had been previously married, he or she wouldn’t also check “Divorced.”)
Question 7: List other names by which the petitioner might be known outside the family, and which might appear on personal documents such as a letter confirming employment. (A maiden name is the woman’s name before marriage.)
Question 8: The U.S. citizen petitioner will likely have a Social Security Number; but will have an "A#" or alien registration number only if he or she was previously a U.S. lawful permanent resident.
Question 9: There is a reason for these questions: If the U.S. citizen spouse’s earlier marriages were not already over by the time he or she married the intending immigrant, this current marriage may not be valid, and the foreign-born person will be ineligible to immigrate. (Make sure that under “Date(s) Marriages” the U.S. citizen gives both the date the marriage started and the date the divorce became final, as opposed to the date the two split up housekeeping.) See a lawyer if there’s a problem.
Question 10: If the U.S. citizen spouse’s citizenship was obtained through naturalization, the number can be found on the top right-hand side of the naturalization certificate. The date and place issued are also shown on the certificate. If the U.S. spouse’s citizenship was obtained through parents, he or she may have a certificate of citizenship, which would clearly show a number that can be entered on this form. (It is possible, however, that the U.S. spouse has only a U.S. passport, which is also an acceptable form of proof of citizenship.)
Question 11: If the U.S. citizen has ever submitted other Forms I-129F, USCIS may take a look at those files to make sure there was no fraud involved. There’s nothing automatic about its decision -- after all, it is perfectly 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.
Now we’re back to the foreign-born spouse.
Questions 1-5: Self-explanatory.
Question 6: Check only the “Married” box.
Question 7: Self-explanatory (maiden name is the name before marriage, if the person changed it afterward).
Question 8: The immigrant will not have a Social Security number unless he or she has lived in the United States; insert “N/A” if the immigrant does not have one.
Question 9: 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 will have assigned if the intending immigrant previously applied for permanent or in some cases temporary residency, or has been in deportation or removal proceedings. If the immigrant has an A-Number, he or she must enter it here. If the previous application was denied because the immigrant was inadmissible, or lied on that application, call a lawyer before going any further.
Question 10: These questions relate to the eligibility requirement that this be the immigrant's only marriage.
Question 11: Self-explanatory.
Question 12: The immigrant can enter “N/A” here, not currently being in the United States.
Question 13: This refers to all the immigrant’s children, whether born of this relationship or a previous one.
Question 14: Hopefully the intended address in the United States is the same as that of the U.S. citizen spouse, or USCIS will raise questions. Even if the immigrant will spend some time away from the married home, such as for school or work, the married home should be condiered the permanent address. If there is a compelling reason that the immigrant will have a completely separate residence, attach documents to explain why, or consult a lawyer.
Question 16: If the immigrant's native language uses a non-Roman script (for example, Russian, Chinese, or Arabic), write the name and address in that script.
Questions 17 and 18: These questions are meant for fiancés. You can simply answer “N/A” here.
Question 19: This is a new question, a result of recent concern by Congress that so-called “mail-order” spouses (who meet through the services of an international matchmaking agency) are especially susceptible to domestic violence and abuse. In response, Congress passed the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA). IMBRA requires you to state here whether you met your fiancé or spouse through an international marriage broker, and if so, to give information about the broker.
Question 20: Enter the name of the U.S. consulate where the immigrant plans to attend the visa interview. This must, according to the terms of the K-3 visa, be in the same country where you got married—or, if you married in the United States, in the country where the immigrating spouse now lives.
Now the questions once again refer to the petitioning U.S. citizen spouse.
Question 1: Self-explanatory.
Questions 2-3: If the 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 immigrant will also be told of any of the U.S. spouse’s relevant history.
The U.S. citizen needs to sign and date the forms under the paragraph that starts Your Certification.
This section need not be filled in if you just got a little help from a friend. This line is mainly for lawyers or agencies that fill out these forms on clients’ behalf.
Other Forms and Documents That Must Accompany the K-3 Visa Petition
In addition to filling in Form I-129F, the U.S. petitioner must also provide various documents and other items in support of the K-3 visa petition. These include:
- Proof of the U.S. citizenship status of petitioning spouse. Depending on how the U.S. spouse became a citizen, this might include a copy of a birth certificate, passport, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, or Form FS-20 (Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen).
- Proof that the U.S. spouse filed Form I-130 with USCIS. Wait until the USCIS Service Center sends a Form I-797C receipt notice, then photocopy this and send the copy.
- Photos of the immigrant and spouse. These must be taken in U.S. passport style. They must be identical photos, 2 × 2 inches in size, taken within the past six months, showing your current appearance. Passport style means that the photo shows your full face from the front, with a plain white or off-white background—and your face must measure between one inch and 1⅜ inches from the bottom of your chin to the top of your head. For more information, see the State Department website at http://travel.state.gov. (under “Visas for Foreign Citizens,” click “more,” then “A–Z Subject Index,” then go to “Photo Requirements—Nonimmigrant Visas” under letter “P”). However, USCIS regulations permit you to submit a photo that doesn’t completely follow the instructions if you live in a country where such photographs are unavailable or are cost prohibitive.
- Two Forms G-325A, one for you and one for your spouse. Because this is the exact same form as was submitted with Form I-130, we will not repeat the instructions here. However, it’s best to submit forms with original signatures to USCIS, instead of photocopying the ones submitted with Form I-130.
- No fee. You don’t need to pay the usual fee for an I-129F visa petition when submitting it as part of a K-3 visa application.
Where to Send the K-3 Visa Petition
When the U.S. citizen spouse has finished filling out and assembling everything for the K-3 visa petition, he or she must send it to the USCIS Service Center that sent a receipt for the I-130 visa petition. The petitioning spouse should also make two photocopies, and send a copy of the K-3 visa petition packet to the immigrant, and file the other carefully with his or her other records. The immigrant should familiarize him or herself with the materials and answers so as to be prepared to explain anything contained in that packet during the upcoming visa interview.
What Will Happen After Sending in the K-3 Visa Petition
A few weeks after sending in the K-3 Fiancé Visa Petition, the USCIS office will send the U.S. spouse a receipt notice titled Notice of Action, and numbered I-797C. This notice will tell the petitioner to check the USCIS website for information on how long the petition is likely to remain in processing (usually around three months).
If USCIS needs additional documentation to complete the Fiancé Visa Petition, it will send the U.S. citizen a letter asking for it. It’s best to respond to these requests as soon as possible, though taking care, as always, to keep copies of whatever you send for your records (and to prove it was sent).
Once the petition is approved, USCIS will notify the U.S. citizen spouse by sending an approval notice on Form I-797. It will also notify the NVC, which will transfer the case to the consulate where the interview is to take place (in the country of marriage or, if you were married in the U.S., in the country where the immigrating spouse lives). This stage can take some weeks. Or it might never happen at all. If USCIS approves the I-130 before the I-129F -- which, as of 2013, it always does -- the case will go forward as an immigrant visa, not a K-3 case.