USCIS Implements New Biometric Requirements


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in February 2019 that it would be implementing a newly revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status. Form I-539 is used by individuals who want to change or extend their nonimmigrant status. This includes individuals seeking B1 or B2 visitor status, some F-1 and M-1 students, and the spouses and dependents of H-1B, L-1, and E visa beneficiaries.

Each applicant and persons included on the application now must pay a $85 biometrics fee, regardless of the person’s age, and they all must appear in person to submit fingerprints and photographs. This new requirement applies to individuals who have applied for adjustment of status and change of status benefits for individuals in some non-immigrant categories, even though they already have been inspected and admitted into the U.S. USCIS estimates that the biometrics processing time is about 17 days.

finger prints

USCIS Implements New Biometric Requirements

Originally, USCIS planned to implement the revised form and new procedures as of March 11, 2019. However, delays caused USCIS to push back the implementation date until March 25, 2019, although individuals may use the new form as of March 12, 2019. Reportedly, USCIS will reject any Form I-539 that is missing the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A.

This change in policy has imposed additional fees and steps on those who must file Form I-539. Although USCIS claims that the addition of these requirements will not slow down the processing of these forms, immigration advocates are doubtful, particularly when it comes to premium processing services.

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