On February 11, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will publish a revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status on March 11, 2019. Starting on March 11, 2019, USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 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. USCIS will also be publishing a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on March 11. Form I-539A replaces the Supplement A provided in previous versions of Form I-539. Form I-539A can only be submitted with Form I-539; it cannot be filed as a stand-alone form.
The revised Form I-539 includes the following significant changes:
• Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A, which will be available on the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov) on March 11. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.
• In addition to the filing fee of $370, every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee, except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions to be published on March 11.
• Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.
• USCIS will reject any Form I-539 that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A.
In addition to the higher cost per applicant and increased paperwork burdens, the above changes are expected to result in increased Form I-539 processing times as USCIS will conduct background checks following attendance of a biometrics collection appointment by the foreign national applicants.
This change is expected to affect a number of applicants. For example, spouses and children of foreign nationals on work visas, such as individuals in H-4, L-2, E-2, R-2 and O-3 dependent status, among others. Additionally, it will affect visitors for business or pleasure on B-1/2 visas who apply to extend their stay or change to another status. USCIS has not yet introduced a biometrics requirement for principal beneficiaries seeking to change/extend status using the Form I-129 (for example, principal H-1B, L-1, E-2, R-1 and O-1 beneficiaries).
Individuals with questions about the Form I-539 should consult with experienced immigration counsel.
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