USCIS recently announced that beginning March 11, 2019 it will require use of a new version of Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, a form commonly used to extend or change the status of H-4 and L-2 dependents. USCIS stated it will also require use of a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. At present, there is no grace period for continued use of prior editions of the form, and no preview of the new version is currently available.
This revision will have the following implications:
- Every applicant and co-applicant will be required to pay an $85 biometric service fee;
- Every applicant and co-applicant must attend a biometric services (fingerprinting) appointment, which will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the applicant’s address; and
- Every co-applicant must sign a separate Form I-539A. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent.
This revision may significantly affect processing timelines. Although Form I-539 is not eligible for premium processing when filed individually, USCIS’ current practice is typically to approve H-4 or L-2 status at the same time as a premium processed H-1B or L-1 as a courtesy. USCIS has not clarified how completion of biometrics will impact H-4 or L-2 processing, but it is expected that the new biometric requirement will delay the process, possibly resulting in lag time between an employee’s H-1B or L-1 approval and the H-4 or L-2 approval of dependents, particularly when premium processing is used.
After March 11, 2019, USCIS will reject the old version and any submission that does not include each applicant’s signature.