Update 5 Mar, 2019 – New Form on Mar 8
New i539 and i539A will be made available by USCIS on March 8, 2019. You can use the old i539 form up-to March 21.
Update 1 Mar, 2019 – Grace period Added
- Biometric requirement Grace period added. You can use current i539 form until until Mar 21, 2019.
- You do not have to go through Biometric process if you file old current form until Mar 21, 2019.
- H4 applications file with H1B in premium will NOT receive result for H4 in premium timeline due to Biometric appointments.
- Average scheduling time for biometric collection of the USCIS is currently about 17 days, but it can be longer depending on each circumstance.
USCIS adds Biometric Step to I539
USCIS will only accept the new Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status starting March 11, 2019 with an edition date of 02/04/19.
USCIS will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier.
I-539 Biometric Fees
Form I-539 Biometric fees is USD $85 for each applicant separately. A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants do NOT need to pay Biometric fees.
USCIS will reject Form I-539 application submitted without bio-metrics fees.
Form I-539 is used by
- H4 visa holders to extend their H4 status along with their spouse and child’s H1B extension.
- L1 dependents to file L2 visa extensions.
- B1/B2 Visa Visitors
- F-1 students and J-1 exchange visitors, for certain changes and extensions of status.
USCIS adds New form i539A
USCIS has also added a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to replace the Supplement A provided in previous versions of Form I-539.
Form I-539A can only be submitted with Form I-539.
I-539A Needed for Each Child – Parent Can Sign
Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and 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 to sign.
USCIS will send a biometric appointment notice separately for each applicant with separate USCIS receipt number.
Your fingerprints, photo and/or digital signature will be taken at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s residential address.
If you want biometric to be scheduled at a different ASC location, then you should file a separate Form I-539.
If you are filing form I-539 for H4 extension and including your child, you would file I-539 for yourself and I-539A for your child.
You will have to pay fees of $85 * 2 = $170 as Biometric fees for each of you. Your appointment will be scheduled to your nearest application center.
H4 Extension Processing delays with Biometric
H4 Extension and H4 Change of Status applications are already taking more than 8 months and the new Biometric appointment will certainly add at-least 1 month to total processing time.
I am sure this will affect the H4-EAD application processing time too.
Other Visas like F1, L2 and J1 processing time is expected to increase at-least by 1 month with Biometric step.
Effect if H1, H4 and EAD are applied in premium?
Since H4 and H4 EAD are not eligible for premium on their own, I am expecting that Biometric step will add considerable amount of time.
We still need to see the effects though. It is possible that USCIS may send Biometric appointment request within 15 days but its not known yet.