USCIS Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker


What Is The Form I-129?

Form I-129 is also known as a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. It is used by US employers to apply for permission to hire nonimmigrant workers in the United States.

Form I-129 is a multi-purpose form, which means that it can be used to petition for any nonimmigrant classification.

USCIS Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) may be used to issue a new status for foreign nationals or update the status of an existing visa. This form may also be used to extend your stay as well as issue certain rights to foreign nationals living in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa but seeking work authorization.

Form I-129 is obviously filed by the petitioner, but in some cases, an agent may also file the form on the petitioner’s behalf.

What Is The Purpose of Form I-129?

Form I-129 serves several purposes, including:

  • An extension of the status of a qualified foreign national who already lives in the U.S. on another legal immigration status.
  • To change the approved employment of a foreign national when the title, job duties, or salary changes.
  • Providing sponsorship for a foreign national who does not live in the U.S., but who has the ability to apply for a corresponding nonimmigrant work visa at the U.S. consulate of their home country once the I-129 petition has been approved.
  • To amend the status of a foreign national who is already residing within the U.S. on a different nonimmigrant status.

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Who Is Eligible to Be Sponsored With An I-129 Petition?

There are several workers that may be eligible for sponsorship with an I-129 work visa, including:

  • Temporary workers who qualify for H-1B, H-1C, H-2A, and H-3 visa status.
  • Foreign nationals who possess extraordinary abilities that make them eligible for an O-1 visa, as well as their assistants that qualify for O-2 status.
  • Foreign nationals who qualify for P-1, P-2, and P-3 visas, including athletes, entertainers, performers, and artists, as well as the staff that they rely on to assist them, as long as those staff members qualify for P-1S, P-2S, or P-32 visas.
  • Religious employees who qualify for R-1 status.
  • Cultural exchange employees who qualify for the Q-1 visa status.

Form I-129 may also be used to extend the status of foreign nationals who are currently lawfully residing in the U.S. with E-1, E-2, or TN visas. 

Read Also: Work Visa USA Guide

How To Complete An I-129?

Form I-129 has a total of six pages – to which you add an additional page containing the explanations. The form primarily requires you to fill in the information concerning the employer, but also the position that the foreign national.

It is essential that the form is completed correctly since an incomplete petition might be rejected. Even if the petition is approved, any mistakes in the form might cause complications to the status of the worker.

Filling in the form is relatively straightforward – particularly if you follow the explanations page as well. However, to make things simpler, here are the stages that you will have to follow.

Petitioner Information

As the name suggests, the first part of the form requires that you provide information on yourself, the petitioner. What you need to remember is that in this case, the one who fills in the petition is the employer. This makes the foreign national that is about to be employed a “beneficiary” – one that will have to be added to the form.

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Information About The Petition

This part is standard procedure – one that will allow the agents to get organized. The second part of the I-129 petition requires that you fill in information about the requested non-immigrant status – as well as the actions that you, the employer, want the USCIS to take. The employer must add the requested visa category – and check whether the worker fits the qualifications or not.

If the employee is new, they will be signed under “new employment.” This will also be the case if you are requesting a new classification for a current employee.

On the other hand, if the purpose is to extend the worker’s stay with the same job and no changes, they will have to be filed under “continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer.”

Other classifications include “change in previously approved employment,” in the event that there have been changes in the job (title or duties), or “amended petition” in the event that there has been a material change in the position.

Beneficiary Information

Once the information about the requested status has been filled in, you will have to move onto the details regarding the beneficiary – a.k.a. the one employed. Most of the time, the information that is requested is straightforward – the confusion usually appearing around the “A-number” section.

This is because many people do not know what this number implies. This nine-digit alien registration number is generally assigned to a few select foreign nationals. In most cases, an employee that has not yet applied for permanent residence will not even receive an A-number. If that is the case, you may leave this part of the petition blank.

Processing Information

The fourth part of Form I-129 will involve a series of questions that are necessary to process Form I-129. Among these, you may find questions asked about an inspection of the facility where the employee may apply for a visa (in the event that they are outside the U.S.), or the location of a United States consulate.

This section should be completed using the information from the employer’s home country – no matter if the petition is actually for in-country. There is a possibility that an in-country request may be denied – regardless if the petition has already been approved or not. If this is the case, then the USCIS must know where to send the form I-129.

An employee may also sometimes request for third-country processing in Mexico or Canada – but this should ideally be avoided. If there are any delays in the processing, the employee may risk having to stay in that country for a longer period of time. This type of processing should only be considered if there are certain circumstances that prevent the petition from being processed in the home country.

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Information About The Employment And Employer

This section is also fairly straightforward. Here, the person writing the petition will be asked for specific information regarding the employer and the employment that has been proposed. In the event that an LCA (Labor Condition Application) is also required, this section should contain the same information. You will also have to provide an LCA case number, in the event that you have one.

In this section, you should also enumerate any compensation that the employer will provide to the employee. For instance, if your employee receives any benefits, you should note them all here.

Export Control Certification

An employer will have to disclose if a license is necessary from the federal government for the foreign employee to receive access to technical data or technology. If the business of the employer handles such technology that may need this license, then a designed official will be asked to make this determination. If the organization does not have a designed official, then the employer will have to discuss with an attorney on how to fill this section in.

Signing The I-129

The employer should have an authorized representative to sign the seventh part of the form. If they consulted with a lawyer to complete the petition, they should sign this part. Ideally, every signature should be in blue ink.

Supplements To Form I-129

This form should also contain a supplement that will complete the request for the visa classification. The list of supplements should be included in the Form I-129 packet. The employer is not required to fill in with any supplement pages that are not mandatory for the visa classification, such as loan approvals from banks or other documentation that strengthens their status.

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Where To File Form I-129

If you are a prospective employer, you must submit Form I-129 directly to the US immigration service at the appropriate Service Center. The USCIS website has information on different centers and their mailing address.

When To File Form I-129

Generally, a Form I-129 petition may not be filed more than six months prior to the date employment is scheduled to begin. Petitioner should review the appropriate regulatory provisions in 8 CFR which relate to the nonimmigrant classification sought.

File the petition as soon as possible before the proposed employment begins or before an extension of stay will be required. If the petition is not submitted at least 45 days before the employment begins, petition processing and subsequence visa issuance may not be completed before the alien’s services are required or previous employment authorization ends.

Filing Fee For Form I-129

The filing fee for Form I-129 is $460. You agree to pay when you send payment. Filing and biometric service fees are final, non-refundable, even if we take action on your application or petition.

Reasons Your I-129 Processing Might Be Delayed

There could be certain reasons for the delay in your I-129 petition such as:

  • You did not sign your Form I-129
  • You submitted a petition without the supporting evidence we asked for with the instructions
  • You claimed nonimmigrant status in an employment category that does not match your actual job duties (this is called “misrepresentation”)
  • You did not submit required documentation, such as your work permit and labor certification if appropriate to your case
  • Your employer failed to pay the required attestations on time, but has now done so
  • Because of an error by USCIS, you were likely denied approval by an unlawfully small business size determination (see Section IV )

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The USCIS Form I-129 is an application for a nonimmigrant worker. A U.S. employer may file this petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of a foreign national who will be coming to work temporarily in the US if the prospective employee meets specific qualifications under immigration law, or has already obtained such status from USCIS as part of another immigrant category, e.g., Permanent Residence Status (Green Card).

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