Open the Door for a Fiancé Visa Through Form I-129F in Arizona
Though this critical first stage may seem as simple as filling out the form, USCIS has established complicated rules for alien fiancé petitions. Failure to properly complete documentation and submit all evidence could lead to delays or a denial, disrupting both wedding and immigration plans. Instead of trying to navigate the complex process on your own, it is wise to retain an Arizona immigration attorney who has the knowledge and experience to support your legal needs. Some background information on Form I-129F petitions is also useful.
Objectives of a Form I-129F in Arizona
USCIS rules allow various forms of family-based immigration that enable US nationals and LPRs to help foreign-born relatives enter or remain in the US. Form I-129F in Arizona is how you get the immigration process started when a US citizen wants to marry an alien fiancé. Submitting the petition is the first step to getting a K-1 fiancé visa, which permits a foreign national to enter the US to get married within 90 days. Form I-129F must be completed by the US citizen and approved by USCIS before the immigrating fiancé can apply for the K-1 visa.
An I-129F petition is also used when your fiancé has children that will accompany him or her to the US. To be eligible, the children must be under 21 years old. After approval of the petition, the children receive a K-2 visa to enter the US with their parents.
When a US citizen is already married to a foreign-born spouse, it is also necessary to complete Form I-129F despite the fact that the petition refers to a fiancé. The spouse receives a K-3 visa to enter the US, but note that processing times can be lengthy. An immigration lawyer in Arizona can advise you on alternatives in such a situation.
Understanding the Roles of the Parties
Once you know the basics about the functions of an I-129F petition, you should understand how you will participate in the process of getting a fiancé visa. USCIS has very specific terms for the parties, including:
- Petitioner: This is the person who completes and submits Form I-129F. You must be a US national to act as a petitioner for an alien fiancé, and you are attesting under oath to the truth of the information you provide. There can be severe penalties for perjury, as USCIS is aggressive in its efforts to root out marriage fraud in connection with I-129F petitions.
- Beneficiary: The foreign-born individual seeking a green card is considered the beneficiary for purposes of family-based immigration, so the alien fiancé is in this position when preparing Form I-129F. The beneficiary does not sign the petition, but he or she will need to provide information as necessary to complete it.
Eligibility for I-129F Petitions in Arizona
Only a US citizen can prepare a Form I-129F, unlike other forms of family-based immigration that allow a green card holder to file for alien relatives. In addition, you must have met your fiancé at an in-person gathering within two years prior to filing. USCIS rules allow for exceptions if the couple has not met them, including:
- Meeting in person would violate cultural or religious customs in the home country of the beneficiary.
- The requirement to meet in person would impose extreme hardship on the petitioner, such as cost or the difficulty of making the trip.
The I-129F petition focuses on the petitioner’s circumstances, but there is a basic requirement for both parties. They must be legally allowed to marry, in the context of age and being single, widowed, or divorced. Keep in mind that qualifying for an alien fiancé petition is not the same as a green card. The beneficiary will encounter additional eligibility considerations when moving on to the next step of filing the K-1 visa application.
Evidence Needed for an Alien Fiancé Petition
As you might expect, USCIS requires you to submit extensive proof along with your Form I-129F. For all information that you provide in the petition, you must include documents or other evidence to support your statements. The details vary based on your circumstances, so it is important to rely on an immigration lawyer in Arizona to assist with gathering and organizing:
- Proof of your US citizenship, such as a passport, birth certificate, or naturalization paperwork
- Evidence showing the end of a prior marriage, such as a divorce decree, death certificate, or order of annulment
- Information proving that you intend to marry your alien fiancé within 90 days after he or she enters the US
- Documents showing that you both met in person within the last two years or an explanation and evidence related to the USCIS exceptions to this requirement
- Paperwork on any legal name change, if applicable to either the petitioner or beneficiary; and,
- Passport-style photos of the petitioner and beneficiary
Filing Process for Form I-129F in Arizona
It is important to note that USCIS rules on filing the fiancé petition are different from other immigration documents. Form I-194F must be mailed to the USCIS lockbox in Dallas, TX, or the address designated for private couriers like UPS and FedEx. The petition will not be processed if sent to any other address, including international offices, embassies, and consulates. Plus, a petitioner cannot submit the form and supporting documents online.
If all requirements are met, USCIS will likely approve the petition for an immigrant fiancé. The petitioner will receive a case number for reference purposes, and documents are forwarded to the embassy or consulate where the beneficiary lives. This point marks the beginning of the second stage of bringing a fiancé to the US, which is applying for a K-1 visa. If the immigrating fiancé has children that were included on Form I-194F, they follow the process for a K-2 visa.
USCIS Processing Times for I-129F Petitions
Though every case is different, USCIS may approve the petition for an alien fiancé within 6 to 14 months. This timeline tends to be shorter because officials do not go through the same exhaustive analysis as immigration applications that grant LPR status. Form I-194F is a prerequisite for getting a visa for the beneficiary, and approval does not grant any immigration status or benefits.
However, the processing time for Form I-194F could be longer if there are any errors or omissions with your paperwork. In such a situation, you might receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) from USCIS. It may be possible to correct mistakes, but there could be delays in getting approval.
There is a USCIS page for checking the status of Form I-194F, as well as the next stage with the K-1 fiancé visa application.
Legal Effect of Approval
Once USCIS approves the petition, the process for obtaining a K-1 visa turns to the beneficiary. The embassy or consulate already has paperwork related to Form I-194F, but there are additional requirements. The immigrating fiancé must complete another set of forms, which can be done online. It is also necessary to attend an interview, during which the consular officer will go over all documents and ask the beneficiary questions about the relationship with the US citizen. Before the interview, the immigrating fiancé must schedule a medical examination by an approved physician.
If the K-1 application is approved and the beneficiary receives a visa, he or she can legally enter the US. However, keep in mind that the 90-day deadline begins upon entry. If you do not get married within this timeframe, the K-1 visa holder should leave the US as soon as possible. There are no extensions on the K-1 visa, and a person can be barred from entering the US in the future.
Assistance with Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé
Because it is the necessary precursor for getting a K-1 visa, legal help is critical for alien fiancé petitions. USCIS rules are complicated, and it is possible to overlook the requirements if you do not have a background in immigration law. An Arizona Form I-129F attorney supports you by:
- Preparing all necessary paperwork for the petition
- Collecting and organizing supporting documents
- Submitting Form I-129F with all evidence and the $535 filing fee
- Assisting with fee waivers, if you qualify
- Managing a NOID or RFE, if USCIS requests additional evidence or corrections
- Coordinating with the embassy or consulate in the beneficiary’s home country
- Helping prepare the beneficiary for an official interview
- Guiding you with the next steps, including entry under the K-1 visa and eventually obtaining a green card
Trust an Arizona Family Immigration Lawyer for Help with I-129F Petitions
It is helpful to review a summary of how alien fiancé petitions work, but you can see why it is important to have skilled legal representation when dealing with USCIS. At Diamondback Legal, our team has in-depth knowledge of the laws, backed by extensive experience helping clients move forward with marriage and getting a green card. Please contact our offices in Phoenix by calling (602) 755-3199 or visiting us online. We can set up a consultation with an Arizona immigration attorney who will offer personalized advice about Form I-129F.
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