USCIS Suspends Biometrics Collection for Certain Form I-539 Applications For Two Years

USCIS Suspends Biometrics Collection for Form I-539 Applications,

On May 17, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced [link] that it was temporarily suspending the biometrics submission requirement for certain nonimmigrant applicants filing the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. The announcement states that “USCIS will allow adjudications for those specific categories to proceed based on biographic information and related background checks, without capturing fingerprints and photograph.”

The temporary suspension will apply through May 17, 2023, and will apply only to the following Form I-539 applications:

Extension of stay in or change of Status to H4 nonimmigrant status;
Extension of stay in or change of status to L2 nonimmigrant status;
Extension of stay in or change of status to E1 nonimmigrant status;
Extension of stay in or change of status to E2 nonimmigrant status (including E2C (E2 CNMI Investor)); or
Extension of stay in or change of status to E3 nonimmigrant status (including E3D).

The suspension will apply only to those above categories and only to I-539 applications that are either:

Pending as of May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice; or
New applications postmarked or submitted electronically on or after May 17, 2021.

Notwithstanding this Form I-539 biometrics suspension, the USCIS may, in its discretion, require biometrics for applicants who meet the suspension criteria. Any applicant may be scheduled to provide biometrics at an application support center.

Furthermore, applicants who have already been scheduled for a biometrics appointment should attend their scheduled appointment. The suspension does not cancel existing appointments. Thus, applicants with scheduled appointments should attend their appointments unless the USCIS notifies them on an individual basis.

Because biometrics collection will be suspended for most Form I-539 applicants in the H4, L2, E1, E2, and E3 categories, Form I-539 applicants who meet the criteria will, as of May 17, 2021, not be required to submit the $85 biometrics services fee for the Form I-539. The Service will return the biometrics fee if it is submitted separately from the base I-539 fee. For Form I-539 applications postmarked May 27, 2021, or later, the USCIS will reject Forms I-539 submitted with a single payment covering the base Form I-539 fee and the biometrics services fee. Form I-539 applicants should be very aware of this suspension so long as it remains in effect.

Applicants with case specific questions about their Forms I-539 and related issues should consult with an immigration attorney.