A Checklist Before You Fill Out Form I-129F
U.S. citizens looking to bring their fiancé into the United States for marriage must complete the Form I-129F to petition the USCIS for lawful entry into the country.
However, the USCIS requires proof of your relationship, as well as evidence you met within the last 2-years, and that you both intend to marry each other.
Along with the application, the applicant must also pay the necessary processing fees involved as well.
In this article, we'll look through a checklist you can use to ensure your Form I-129F has the best chance of approval with the USCIS.
U.S. Fiancé Visa Requirements
The applicant must fulfill the following 5-criteria when filing the U.S. Fiancé Visa application.
The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, as only citizens may file Form I-129F
The partners must have the intent to marry, and the couple must marry within 90-days of the fiancé arriving in the United States
Both partners are free to marry and have no outstanding divorce issues or legal separations preventing them from remarrying
The citizen and their partner must have had face-to-face contact in person sometime in the last 2-years
The citizen must meet the minimum income requirements set by the USCIS
How to Complete the Fiancé Meeting Statement?
The U.S. citizen must include a personal statement regarding the couple's relationship when submitting Form I-129F. The statement must include how you met each other, where you have met in person since the initial meeting, and when you decided to marry each other.
Applicants should note that there is no need to include personal information or details of your relationship when attaching this statement to the application. However, the petitioner must present compelling evidence of the relationship that satisfies the USCIS officer processing the request.
Let's unpack the meeting statement in further detail.
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Proof of Meeting in Person
Assuming that the petitioner and the fiancé met in a face-to-face setting, and not online, the petitioner will need to provide evidence of the initial meeting. Some of the documents applicants can include as proof are;
Dated photographs of both of you together
Copies of the flight information or travel document bearing the names of the couple
Copies of passport stamps where the couple travel to meet each other
Credit card receipts showing payment for hotel rooms where you both stayed together
If the partners have never met in person, then the petitioner has to prove that they qualify for an exemption
Those couples that have never met in person due to religious reasons will have to prove that the meeting would cause extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen. The petitioner can include the following documents as evidence for their case.
A letter from the fiancé's parents describing the relationship and its terms
A letter from the couple's religious pastor or guide
A letter from a medical professional stating the reason why the fiancé is unable to travel
Copies of all relevant medical records
Proof of Intention to Marry
Displaying your intention to marry when your partner arrives in the U.S. is a critical component of qualifying criteria for approval of a K-1 fiancé visa. In most cases, a statement signed by both the petitioner and the beneficiary will suffice as evidence in this process.
The USCIS may ask the petitioner for further evidence, such as an affidavit of support or a visa petition. Some of the documents the petitioner can send through to the USCIS as proof of the intention to marry are the following.
Copies of wedding invitations
Copies of invoices for wedding venues, caterers, entertainment, or flowers
Copies of phone bill record to prove you are constant communication with each other
A letter from the religious leader performing the wedding ceremony
Proof the Couple Is Legally Eligible to Marry
If the petitioner and the beneficiary have no previous marriage history, and they are not blood relations, then the petitioner does not need to attach additional evidence to their application in this case.
However, in many couples, one or both of the partners have a previous marriage. In such a case, the petitioner or beneficiary must provide the USCIS with legal documentation proving the end of the marriage.
Evidence that the petitioner or beneficiary may attach to their application includes the following documents.
The court's divorce decree on the relationship
An annulment decree by the religious leader overseeing the processes
A death certificate of the partner
Supplementary Documents to Include with Form I-129F
The petitioner must include the following information and documents along with their application.
Proof of the petitioner's U.S. citizenship – The applicant can attach copies of their birth certificate, passport, certificate of naturalization, or certificate of citizenship, or the applicant may provide Form FS-20 (The Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen). It's important to note that applicants should keep all their original documents and only send copies or certified copies of documents to the USCIS.
The petitioner must submit one color, passport-style photograph, of both themselves and their fiancé. The phot should be 2-inches by 2-inches and display your current appearance. The photos must be less than 30-days from the date the applicant files the petition.
USCIS processing fees can change regularly, so the applicant must ensure that they check the USCIS official government website for more information on the costs involved with processing From I-129F, and any other paperwork or biometrics services on offer during the processing period.
Petitioners can include a check or money order with their Form I-129F application. Those petitioners wishing to pay for the processing fees via credit card will have to complete Form G-1450, the "Authorization for Credit Card Transactions."
Under no circumstances should the petitioner enclose cash as a form of payment for document processing with the USCIS.
Document Requirements for U.S. Citizens with Criminal Records
If the petitioner has a criminal record that involves a conviction for sexual assault, violent crime, domestic violence, or substance abuse, then they must include certified copies of all court and police records relating to the petitioner's offense and the outcome of the courts.
The petitioner needs to follow this procedure, even if the court seals the records or clears them. It's important to note that the USCIS will inform the fiancé about any past criminal record involving their partner.
If the U.S. citizen does have a criminal record, it's a prudent strategy to obtain legal assistance from a qualified immigration attorney before filing Form I-129F.
Obtaining a Waiver Request for Previous I-129F Filings
The USCIS limits the number of K-1 applications to prevent the abuse of immigrants by traffickers. If the petitioner filed Form I-129F on more than two separate occasions in the past, or they had approval on a previously completed Form I-129F application, then the U.S. citizen has to request a waiver from the USCIS.
For petitioners with prior marriages to have success with the waiver request, they must show unusual circumstances around their previous relationships and the current relationship. An example would be the untimely death of an earlier beneficiary.
If the petitioner has a criminal record, the chances of receiving approval for the waiver are slim. The current procedure for requesting the waiver is for the petitioner to attach a signed and dated letter, along with supporting evidence for their waiver application.
However, the best option, in this case, is to seek the assistance and advice of a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer.
Additional Forms Where Required
Petitioners might need to complete ancillary forms to their Form I-129F application.
G-1145 – The E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
This form sets up electronic notifications for the beneficiary and petitioner, notifying them of the progress of the application with the USCIS.
Form G-1450 – The Authorization for Credit Card Transactions
This form is a necessity if the petitioner wishes to pay for the filing fees using their credit card.
Form G-28 – Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative
Petitioners will have to use this form if they require the services of an immigration attorney during the petitioning process.
What are the Filing Fees for Form I-129F?
The USCIS charges a filing fee of $535 for the processing of I-129F applications for the K-1 visa. Applicants can write checks or send money orders to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as acceptable forms of payment.
As mentioned, the petitioner can pay for the filing fees with their credit card, provided that they complete Form G-1450 – The Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
Preparation for the USCIS Interview
The U.S. citizen must file Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), well before they arrange an interview at the USCIS field office.
After approval of Form I-129F, the USCIS will forward the application to the National Visa Center (NVC), which acts as a central hub, coordinating with U.S. Consulates and Embassies internationally.
After receiving the application from the USCIS, the NVC instructs the beneficiary to file their K-1 visa application with the website of the U.S. State Department.
In preparation for the K-1 visa interview, applicants should book and complete a medical exam with an authorized physician. The U.S. Consulate or Embassy provides instructions concerning the medical examination from the U.S. Consulate where the beneficiary applies for their K-1 visa.
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