What Is USCIS Form I-129 in Regards to U.S. Work Visas?

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Form I-129, titled Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, is a document that is submitted by a U.S. employer who wishes to sponsor a foreign national for temporary employment in the United States. The form is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Types of Workers That Can Be Sponsored Using Form I-129

The I-129 petition can be filed for the following employment-based nonimmigrant visa categories:

The I-129 petition can also be used to extend the status of foreign nationals who entered the United States in E-1, E-2, or TN status.

Purposes of I-129 Petition

As alluded to above, the I-129 petition can be used for more than one purpose, including the following:

  • To sponsor a foreign national who is not residing in the United States, but who can apply for the corresponding nonimmigrant visa at the consulate after the I-129 is approved.
  • To change the status of a qualified foreign national who is already in the United States in another nonimmigrant status.
  • To extend the status of a foreign national who is already employed in an appropriate nonimmigrant status; or
  • To amend a foreign national’s approved employment when there is a material change to the job duties, title, or salary.

I-129 Petition Format

The I-129 petition is six pages long, with an additional page for explanations. It primarily asks for information about the employer and the position to be filled by the foreign national. There is one section for the foreign national’s biographic information.

Attached to the primary petition are a variety of supplemental pages that correspond to each visa category that the petition can be used for. Employers will not be required to submit supplemental pages that do not correspond to the nonimmigrant status being sought.

The I-129 petition will also require the submission of supporting documents, which vary depending on the nonimmigrant status being sought. The form’s instructions should be read carefully before preparing the petition, for guidance on how to complete the petition and how to collect the supporting documents.

How to Include Family Dependents in a Nonimmigrant Visa-Related Application

Dependents of employer-sponsored foreign nationals are responsible for securing the corresponding dependent visa. If the dependent is in the United States, Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status must be prepared and can be submitted with the employer’s I-129 petition, or at a later date after the I-129 petition has been receipted in. If the dependent is outside the United States, the dependent visa can be applied for at the U.S. consulate. The dependent will have to provide a copy of the I-129-based I-797 approval notice and proof of his/her relationship with the primary visa holder.

Reasons for Getting Legal Help

Each nonimmigrant visa category for the I-129 petition has its own set of legal requirements. Employers should consider consulting with an immigration attorney to review these requirements and to ask for assistance in preparing and filing the petition.

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