On April 19, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the temporary suspension of the biometrics requirement for certain individuals filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, would be extended through September 30, 2023.
As a result of this announcement, any individuals filing Form I-539 to request an extension of or change of status to H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2, or E-3 nonimmigrant status will not need to submit the $85 biometric services fee or attend a biometrics appointment, provided that the application is submitted by September 30, 2023. However, USCIS will retain discretion on a case-by-case basis to require biometrics from any applicant, as needed.
On March 11, 2019, USCIS first began requiring all applicants filing Form I-539 to attend biometrics appointments as part of the application process. Due to this additional step, and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related USCIS office closures, unprecedented processing delays for Form I-539 applications developed.
In response to these delays and related lawsuits filed against USCIS, the agency first suspended this biometrics requirement on May 17, 2021. The initial suspension period was set to expire on May 17, 2023. This most recent announcement from USCIS extends the temporary suspension through September 30, 2023.
This extension may be a precursor to further changes in biometrics requirements for Form I-539 applicants. In its Fiscal Year 2022 Progress Report, published in December 2022, USCIS indicated that it intended in the coming months to fully remove the requirement that all Form I-539 applicants submit biometrics. USCIS reiterated this commitment in its April 19 announcement of this extension.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.