New Biometrics Requirement in Updated Form I-539

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will release a new Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on March 8, 2019, which will require all accompanying dependents (“co-applicants”) in the application to pay for and complete biometrics services (fingerprinting and taking photo) with USCIS. This includes children.  Each accompanying dependent also will need to sign an updated Supplement A of the Form I-539.  Effective March 21, 2019, USCIS will only accept the new version of the Form and will reject any applications using prior versions.
In a public engagement call today, USCIS conceded that the new biometrics requirement of the Form I-539 effectively will end premium processing of applications to change or extend status of accompanying dependents because of the additional time needed to schedule biometrics appointments.  On average, the scheduling process takes 17 days, which is longer than the 15-day period for premium processing.  USCIS could not say how much longer it would take to adjudicate these extension applications, but it indicated it would be monitoring the situation and, to the extent possible, shift the workload resulting from this new requirement.  
Stakeholders on the call asked about the unfortunate timing of the new Form just ahead of the H-1B cap season.  USCIS acknowledged the situation, but said roll out of the new Form was necessary.
This alert is for informational purposes only. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this development further.

Nadia Yakoob