Employers who would like to petition USCIS for a foreign national to come to the U.S. temporarily to perform labor must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. A wide range of individuals will therefore need this form completed on their behalf including those seeking H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, L-1O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1 visas and more. In this post we’ll go over the I-129 form processing time, filing procedures, mailing address and so much more.

I-129 Processing Time

The I-129 processing time will largely depend on which category of visa and field office is handling your case. For instance if you were to be applying for the H-1B category (visa to be issued abroad) and the California field office was handling your case then the processing time would be about 2.5 months since 80% of cases are handled within that time frame. Conversely, if you were applying for the L-Intracompany transfer and the Texas Service Center was handling your case, the processing timeframe would be closer to 4.5 months. The USCIS Processing Time tool is a great way to gauge about how long you can expect the processing to take. Note that the processing time is based on how long it has taken USCIS to complete 80% of adjudicated cases over the past six months. Some cases may take longer than others. USCIS generally only allows case inquiries for cases that are “well outside the processing time listed above”. It’s best to first consult your immigration attorney before contacting USCIS directly.

Instructions for Completing Form I-129

The top portion of page 1 should be reserved for USCIS only.

Part 1. Petitioner Information (page 1 of 36)

For individuals filing the Form I-129 petition, you should complete Item Number 1. If you are a company or organization doing so, complete Item Number 2.

i-129 form

Line 1 asks for the legal name of the individual petitioner. Line 2 asks for the company or organization name. In line 3 fill out the mailing address of the individual, company or organization. Lines 4 and 5 are for contact information and other information like the Federal Employer Identification Number, Individual IRS tax number and U.S. social security number (if any).

Part 2. Information About This Petition (page 2 of 36)

In part 2 you will need to fill out the:

  • Requested nonimmigrant classification
  • Basis for classification
  • Most recent petition/application receipt number for the beneficiary (if one exists)
  • Requested action
  • Total number of workers included in the petition

Part 3.  Beneficiary Information (page 2 of 36)

This section is information about the beneficiary/beneficiaries you are filing for. If an entertainment group, fill in the group name in line 1. In lines 2-4 provide the name of the beneficiary, date of birth, gender and U.S. social security number (if any). If the beneficiary has an alien registration number, that should be included as well. If the beneficiary is currently in the United States, complete line 5 with their date of last arrival, I-94 arrival-departure record number, passport or travel document number, etc. In line 6 complete their current residential U.S. address.

Part 4. Processing Information (page 3 of 36)

If a beneficiary or beneficiaries named in Part 3. is/are outside the United States, or a requested extension of stay or change of status cannot be granted, state the U.S. Consulate or inspection facility you want to be notified if this petition is approved in line 1a-d. The rest of part 4 asks yes or no questions pertaining to if any other petitions are being filed, if you are filing applications for any dependents in the petition, and more.

Part 5. Basic Information About the Proposed Employment and Employer 

Be sure to attach the Form I-129 supplement relevant to the classification of the worker(s) you are requesting.

In lines 1-3 complete the job title, LCA or ETA case number, and address where the beneficiary will work if different from the address in part 1. Lines 4-14 ask questions related to the job position including wages, whether they will work off-site at another company or organization’s locations, other compensation, dates of employment, type of business, etc.

Part 6. Certification Regarding the Release of Controlled Technology or Technical Data to Foreign Persons in the United States (page 6 of 36)

If the immigration benefit sought falls under the H-1B, H-1B1 Chile/Singapore, L-1, and O-1A petitions then you should select item number 1 or 2, as appropriate.

Part 7. Declaration, Signature, and Contact Information of Petitioner or Authorized Signatory

This section is pretty standard and has you certify, under penalty of perjury that any copies of documents you submit are “exact photocopies of unaltered, original documents, and I understand that, as the petitioner, I may be required to submit original documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at a later date.” By signing you also authorize the release of any information from the records or the organization’s records that USCIS needs to make a determination on the case for the visa/immigration benefit sought.

Part 8. Declaration, Signature, and Contact Information of Person Preparing Form, If Other Than Petitioner

In this section, you will need to provide the information about the preparer including the name, business or organization name, mailing address, and contact information. Below that the preparer will need to certify and sign that the information in the form and supporting documents are complete, true and correct.

Part 9. Additional Information About Your Petition For Nonimmigrant Worker (page 8 of 36)

This section is for more space to provide information regarding the aforementioned questions.

Page 9 of 36 – E-1/E-2 Classification Supplement to Form I-129

Those who are seeking an E-1/E-2 visa should complete this supplement on pages 9 and 10.

Page 11 of 36 – Trade Agreement Supplement to Form I-129

This supplement may be required for certain foreign workers seeking to enter the United States under certain trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The purpose is to ensure that the prospective worker meets the requirements of the particular trade agreement and is eligible for the nonimmigrant visa classification sought. This supplement requires information about the specific trade agreement, the employer and the prospective worker, including their job title and duties, as well as evidence that the worker meets the specific requirements of the trade agreement.

Page 13 of 36 – H Classification Supplement to Form I-129

This supplemental form is required when an employer is petitioning for a foreign national to work on H visa status. Complete pages 13-21 as appropriate. The supplement includes detailed information about the employer, the foreign national worker, the job position, and the proposed terms of employment, including the wage offered and the duration of the intended employment.

Why does USCIS need this information? 

This information helps USCIS determine whether the employer and the foreign national meet the eligibility requirements for the specific H visa category and whether the employment is ultimately in the best interest of the U.S.

Page 22 of 36 – L Classification Supplement to Form I-129

This supplement (page 22-25) applies to multinational companies who wish to transfer employees from their foreign offices to their offices in the United States. These pages of the form ask about the petitioner, the beneficiary, and the qualifying relationship between the two. It also requires information about the proposed job duties and qualifications of the beneficiary, as well as the nature of the relationship between the U.S. and foreign companies involved in the transfer.

Page 26 of 36 – O and P Classifications Supplement to Form I-129

This supplement (page 26-28) is for O and P classifications (employment-based visas that are available to individuals with extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics and to athletes, artists, entertainers, and essential support personnel). These pages ask you to provide additional information about the beneficiary’s qualifications and the nature of their work. This includes details about the beneficiary’s accomplishments, such as awards, publications, or performances, as well as information about the employer and the proposed employment.

Page 29 of 36 – Q-1 Classification Supplement to Form I-129

This portion of the form is used by employers in the United States who wish to hire nonimmigrant workers to participate in an international cultural exchange program. Specifically, this is for individuals who will be participating in a cultural exchange program that provides practical training, employment, and the sharing of the participant’s home country’s culture in the United States.

Page 30 of 36 – R-1 Classification Supplement to Form I-129

This part of the form that is used as part of the application process for religious workers seeking to enter the United States temporarily to work for a qualified religious organization. The R-1 Classification Supplement asks for information about the religious organization, the religious worker, and the nature of the proposed work. The form requires detailed information about the religious organization’s history, structure, and operations, as well as the religious worker’s qualifications and experience. The form also requires a detailed description of the proposed work and how it relates to the organization’s religious activities.

I-129 Direct Filing 

Where do I send my I-129 form?

The I-129 nonimmigrant filing locations can be found on this USCIS page. Depending on which visa/immigration benefit is sought will make the difference in which location to send it to. It’s always best to consult with your immigration attorney which is the correct filing location. For H-1B and H-1B3 regular cap subject petitions, you should refer to your registration selection notice to determine the appropriate service center at which to file your petition. If you fail to file your petition at the service center indicated on your selection notice, you risk having it rejected.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does I-129 approval mean?

If you I-129 is approved, that makes the worker eligible to start or continue working at the job (on or after the indicated start date) if already in the United States.

What is I-129 and I-797?

There are different types of I-797 forms, each serving a specific purpose. For example, an I-797C is used to acknowledge receipt of an application or petition, while an I-797A is used to notify an applicant that their application or petition has been approved and includes a tear-off portion that can be used as evidence of the approval. The I-797 form provides information about the status of an application or petition and serves as proof of approval.

What is an I-129S document?

The I-129S is for workers eligible for an L-1 visa based on a blanket L petition.

Is I-129 required for H-1B stamping?

When applying for the H-1B visa stamp, the following documents should be present to the consular officer:

  • Passport (valid for at least six months)
  • Original H1B approval notice
  • Photocopy of LCA
  • Photocopy of Form I-129
  • Appointment schedule letter
  • DS-160 barcode confirmation
  • Letter for the H-1B visa application provided by your employer
  • Payment stubs for at least the last three months
  • H classification supplement to form I-129
  • Employment verification letter
  • Request for working conditions for H-1B and H-1B1 non-immigrants
  • Monthly statements (last three months)
  • For dependents, include documents to established the relationship (i.e., birth and marriage certificates)

documents for h1b visa stamp

What is the I-129 filing fee? 

The I-129 filing fee is $460 and can be paid with a money order, personal check or cashier’s check. Payments by credit card should use Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

What if I have a change in previously approved employment?

This should be thoroughly discussed with your immigration attorney. The VisaNation Law Group team has an excellent track record of employment-based immigration approvals. Schedule a consultation to learn more.