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The K3 Visa Family Unification Process: How Is It Working for You? Questions from CIS Ombudsman's Teleconference on January 31, 2008

The following are questions discussed during the January 31, 2008 teleconference and the answers received from USCIS.

1. Administrative Closures of I-129Fs? – One caller noted that USCIS’ National Customer Service Center is providing different information on the I-130/I-129F process. One customer service representative stated that the I-129F is administratively closed after the I-130 is approved. Another representative stated that I-129Fs are not closed and USCIS is continuing to process the I-129F. Is USCIS administratively closing the I-129F application if the I-130 has been approved? Can USCIS provide clarification on this process?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: USCIS has been administratively closing the I-129F upon approval of the I-130. USCIS, however, is currently reviewing the I-129F/K-3 process.

2. Cancellation of I-129Fs? – One caller asked if the California Service Center is canceling I-129Fs since there is not a fee for this form and the forms are sent to the same service center as the underlying Form I-130. The caller noted a case where California cancelled the I-129F before the I-130 was approved. Has USCIS changed its policy regarding I-129Fs? Are the California and Vermont Service Center following the same procedure?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: See #1 above.

3. I-129F Processing Times Not Posted – – A caller mentioned that it is difficult to know which process is more efficient, Form I-130 or Form I-129F, because USCIS does not post Form I-129F processing times. Does USCIS plan to post processing times for the I-129F?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: USCIS is currently reviewing the I-129F/K-3 process.

4. I-129F or I-130 Receipt Date for Processing Times? – Callers mentioned that it is unclear whether USCIS uses the receipt date on the I-129F or I-130 to begin processing the case. Does the I-129F receipt date control the processing time? Does the I-129F receipt date control the processing time even when USCIS administratively closed that case when the I-130 was approved?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: The submission of an I-129F does not delay the processing of a previously filed I-130.

5. Permanent Resident to U.S. Citizen – – One caller explained that he filed an I-130 petition for his non-citizen spouse as a permanent resident in 2005, but is now a U.S. citizen. Is it beneficial to now file an I-129F for his spouse to join him more quickly?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: Because processing times vary, USCIS cannot unequivocally state that it is beneficial to file an I-129F.

6.Transfers to Department of State’s National Visa Center – One caller explained that her I-129F petition was approved in September 2007, but as of January 2008 the National Visa Center (NVC) did not have the petition. USCIS’ National Customer Service Center representative told her to call back in one month. The caller recommended that USCIS send a notice to the applicant when a file is transferred to the NVC to better inform the applicant of case status.

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: While USCIS would need more information to determine the reason for the delay with the caller's specific case, it should be noted that the I-129F approval notice informs the petitioner that the case is being forwarded to the appropriate consulate.

7. Streamlining the Process – One caller suggested a new procedure where applicants could send the I-130 receipt notice directly to the appropriate consulate or embassy to eliminate duplicative filings and effort.

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: USCIS appreciates this recommendation and continues to explore ways to make this process as efficient as possible.

8. Transparency – One caller stated that the adjudication and processing of I-129Fs and I-130s is unclear. Case status on-line is not frequently updated and does not provide accurate information. Callers noted that they go to unofficial websites because USCIS does not provide accurate or timely information. Can USCIS provide a breakdown of the number of I-130s for spouses adjudicated at the California and Vermont Service Centers and provide the actual processing times for these applications?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: The processing times - not the total number of I-130s adjudicated - are the relevant pieces of information for I-129F/K3 purposes. As noted above, USCIS is currently reviewing the I-129F/K3 process.

9. I-130 Filed Before New Fee Rule– I-129F Filed After Fee Rule – Effective July 30, 2007, USCIS now charges no fee for a K-3 spouse who is the beneficiary of an I-130 immigration petition filed by a U.S. citizen spouse. One caller asked if there was an I-129F fee due if the I-130 was filed before July 30 and the I-129F after July 30. Does USCIS require applicants to pay the additional fee for the I-129F under these circumstances?

  • USCIS Response on April 30, 2008: There is no fee for the I-129F/K-3 filed after July 30, 2007, regardless of when the underlying I-130 was filed.

10. Working with Department of State – One caller said that some consulates are more efficient at processing the I-129F, which may negatively affect applicants whose I-129F petition was administratively closed by USCIS with the I-130 approval. Does USCIS notify the Department of State if the agency administratively closes the I-129F? How else do USCIS and the Department of State work together on the issues of reuniting foreign national and U.S. citizen spouses?

  • USCIS Response on August 18, 2008:  USCIS does not notify the Department of State regarding the termination of the K-3 petition, since such termination does not affect the immigrant visa process or the applicant’s eligibility for an immigrant visa.  It should be noted, however, that USCIS is no longer administratively closing the I-129F/K-3s and that it is sending both the approved I-129F/K-3 petition and the approved I-130 petition to the Department of State.
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