Preparing an I-129 petition for hiring a non-immigrant worker

Perhaps you own a seasonal business; for example, you might raise and sell Fraser Firs, a very popular type of Christmas tree. You get along well during much of the year with a small staff of full-time employees. However, you always have to look ahead to the busy season, and that means hiring temporary employees to get you through the crunch.

Your business is in a rural area and there are not enough locals to fill your need for temporary help. You therefore plan to hire non-immigrant workers, but you must first submit an I-129 petition to the government.

About the I-129

Under certain conditions, the government may permit you to hire foreign nationals for your business. The I-129 Petition for a non-immigrant Worker is the first step in the hiring process. You must file the petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If approved, the prospective employees may apply to enter the United States. Foreign nationals must first meet the requirements specified under whichever visa classification is appropriate for the positions you need to fill.

What to expect

Once you file the I-129 form, the USCIS will send you a receipt to let you know they have your petition. A fee must accompany the petition, but if the form is not complete, USCIS will reject it and return the fee to you. An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand the petition and complete it correctly. If the department approves your petition, and if the prospective temporary employees are already in the United States, they can begin work for your company upon meeting certain requirements.

The time element

The non-immigrant workers you wish to hire may still be outside the U.S. Keep in mind that processing times for the I-129 vary, and you cannot submit the petition earlier than six months in advance of the date on which the temporary employees are to begin work. However, you can pay an extra fee and request premium processing, which will lower the six months’ timeframe to 15 days. Once you go through hiring non-immigrant workers for your tree business the first time, you will find the process much easier the next time around.