New I-539 Form USCIS Info

New I-539 form USCIS– Process, I-539A, Biometric,Processing Time H4

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 51 Comments

Since last Friday, March 22, 2019, you can no longer use the old I-539 form with USCIS and also some of the process is changing to collect Biometrics. This change will have impact on the H4, F1, L2 and many other visa holders that use I-539 form with USCIS. Let’s look at the changes, how process will change and impact on the overall processing times.

Why New I-539 form and I-539A form ?

One of the fundamental reason for the new form is based on the Executive order EO 13780, which is “Protecting the National from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”.  By introducing new form, USCIS is planning to collect Biometric information for better screening and vetting for national security.

Who all are impacted with the New I-539 form ?

I-539 form is used by many categories of visa holders and it will impact all of them.

  • H1B, L1 dependents ( spouse, children) – H4 Holders filing for extension/ change of their status
  • L1 Dependents ( spouse, children) – L2 holders filing for extension/ change of their status
  • B1 / B2 – Visitor visa holders to extend/ change their status
  • F1 for COS, Reinstatements, J1 Holders
  • Other visa holders dependents like CW-2, E category dependents, G, G-5 etc.

What is the New I-539 Form ?

There are some subtle changes in the I-539 form by pages. The form size is reduced to 7 pages from 9 pages in the past version. Small changes happened to pages 1,2, 4, 6 and 7. See below at the end of article, where we highlighted what changed in every page.   One of the major change is removal of the Supplement A section from I-539 form and put it a separate form. Below is how you can identify if you are on the New form or not.

How to check New I-539 Form USCIS

What is I-539A form ?

The I-539A form is the new form created to have the Supplement section in the previous I-539 form. Every co-applicant, who is filing along with the primary I-539 applicant should submit a separate I-539A form and each of the co-applicant has to sign in their respective form. For children under 14 years of age or who cannot sign to due to health reasons, their parents or guardians can sign.

What is the New Fee for I-539 biometric fee ? Separate Checks ?

In addition to standard I-539 form fee of $370 USD, there is an additional $85 biometric fee for every applicant and co-applicant. If you are part of A, G, and NATO categories, you do not need to pay biometric fee.  If you do not include this fee, your application will be denied.

Example :  If let’s say you have 2 children filing along with one dependent then fee would be like below for all 3 of them.

  • Application Fee : $370
  • Biometric Fee : $85*3 = $255

If you are giving check, it is recommend to give separate checks for each of the biometric appointments to avoid confusion. You need to give separate checks for each of the biometric appointment to avoid confusion.

What is the New Process with New I-539 Form?

In the first step of submitting application, the process with new I-539 form is pretty much same as the past, you complete the I-539 application form, but now you would use the new form. Besides, you would also attach any I-539A forms, as applicable for each of the co-applicants, sign and send it to the respective USCIS center. The change in process happens after you send to the application form.

After you submit the complete application form along with fee with USCIS, each of the applicant and co-applicants will receive a separate Biometric services appointment notice containing individual receipt number.  The appointments will be scheduled at the nearest “ Application Support Center (ASC)” closest to the main applicant’s address.  If you want to give biometrics to be done at a different location, then you need to file a separate I-539 form.  The applicants will receive an advance notice of 7 days for the biometric appointment. They can re-schedule as needed. On an average, they say that it will take about 17 days for the overall biometric process.

Do you need to do any Biometric Appointment Scheduling ?

No, you do not have to do any separate appointments. USCIS will automatically do all the biometric appointment scheduling and send you the notice for appointment date and time, you can change it as needed after you received it.

What if I am outside of the Country ? How does Biometrics with Travel outside of USA ?

As per USCIS guidance, on their I-539 form instructions (page 12), you should call up the nearest US consulate/ embassy and arrange for the biometrics. It says “If you are currently overseas, instruct you to contact a US Embassy, US Consulate or USCIS Office outside of United States to setup an appointment “,  see below screenshot. USCIS H4 Biometrics - Travel and Outside of the country

 I am a H1B Holder filing I-129 form, Do I need Biometric appointment as well?

No, you do not need to go to biometrics. It is only for H4 holders using the form I-539.

How will USCIS handle lot of Biometric appointments with so many filing applications ? Will it further delay H4, F1 and other processing ?

As per USCIS, in their conference call, they indicated that Biometrics are done by contractors and they can increased as needed to handle load, if there is surge in appointments. The overall processing times should not be impacted by a big margin, except additional 17 days.

How will Biometric delay the overall H4 and H4 EAD processing for Premium Processing ?

Yes, there will be some delay in the processing due the additional overhead of the biometric process. As per USCIS, which is from the conference call they hosted, they typically would take about 17 days on average to complete the I-539 biometric process from the day they receive the I-539 application(assuming no re-schedules). They said that you would get seven days advance notice for biometrics and gets updated immediately. This may not have much impact for regular processing as there is not too much delay. But for premium processing petitions, there will be impact.  USCIS said in their stakeholder call that they will have the 15 day clock and SLA for H1B petitions and have a decision for them as before, but for the H4 and H4 EAD petitions filed together H1B petition, they will wait for the biometric processing to be complete and then adjudicate immediately once that is complete to as a courtesy of the main H1B premium processing application.  So,  for premium processing petitions, you can expect anywhere from 17 days or so delay for the H4 petitions decisions and H4 EADs to come. Again, this is the guidance, but USCIS is not mandated to process H4 and H4 EADs within the timeframe as H4 and H4 EAD are not subject to the SLA of 15 days of premium or anything as such.

Is Biometrics Mandatory for everyone filing I-539 form ?

Yes, it is mandatory for pretty much all of the applicants using I-539 form for extension/ change of status for many types of visa holder such as H4, F1, etc. except for certain A, G, or NATO Classification categories.

What happens at Application Support Center for Biometrics ?

They will capture your fingerprints, photograph and/or signature and you will need to confirm your application details, stating they are true and correct under penalty of perjury ( basically under US laws oath stating they all are correct).  USCIS  suggests that you review your application beforehand or have a copy of what you have sent to the USCIS center, so that you know what you have sent to review and confirm the same at the Application Support Center.

New I-539 form Changes by Page Compared with Old I-539 Form

I-539 New form by USCIS 2019 Page 1

I-539 New form by USCIS 2019 Page 2

I-539 New form by USCIS 2019 Page 4

I-539 New form by USCIS 2019 Page 6

I-539 New form by USCIS 2019 Page 7

Check latest form info at I-539 form at USCIS website

What do you think of the new form ? Share your experiences with the New form and Biometrics appointments

   

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Comments ( 51 )

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      This is the million dollar question…unfortunately, there is not enough data now to tell the exact time frames…many are waiting…

  1. Unni

    Hello,
    I am currently on J-1 and my H1b got approved (cap exempt) with PP. My wife is on J-2 and her I -539 is still pending, we got I-797c for my wife’s application. My H1b is going to start on July 1st. Our J1/ J2 is valid until Jan 2020, with the same employer. We have our I-140 approved on EB1A. My questions are-
    1. If I start working on H1b on July 1st and my wife didn’t get her approval, will she become out of status?
    2. Family is planning for India-trip in July, need to attend family ceremonies. Anyway, my wife needs to get a visa stamp. If she leaves the US before her I 539 approved, does it make a problem for H4 stamping?

    Please help
    Thanks

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      1. No, as you have applied for it on time before I-94 expiry, she will be period of authorized stay.
      2. No, it should not. Her H4 COS will be abandoned as she left before the approval. It is fine to go and get H4 stamping. If you have not heard back from USCIS, when you enter US, just send a withdraw letter to USCIS for your I-539 application.

      1. Unni

        Thank you very much for your reply. Her I-94 is valid until Jan 2020 with D/S on her I-94. Does she need to carry her I 797C while going for the H4 stamping in India?

        Thanks

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          If she is going for H4 Stamping, she needs your H1B Approval notice copy. Her H4 receipt notice does not matter. She may carry, but it does not matter.

          1. Unni

            Hi,

            Another question came up. Since this is her first H4 stamping (not an extension, previously we are on J1/J2), does it make any problem to getting a visa from the US consulate in India as our I-140 on EB1A is also approved? We didn’t file for the I-485 yet. I saw a question on DS-160 and completed as mentioned below.

            Has anyone ever filed an immigrant petition on your behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services?​ YES​
            Explain: I AM LISTED AS A RELATIVE ON THE I-140​ PETITION FILED BY MY SPOUSE.

            Your advice is highly appreciated.

            Thanks
            Unni

          2. administrator
            Kumar

            It should be fine. H4 is tied to H1B, which is a dual intent visa. Nothing to worry.

      2. Unni

        Hello
        Thanks for the previous comments. She got the biometric appointment letter, scheduled in the last week of June. We hope it will be processed before her travel.

        Regards
        Unni

  2. Radha

    Hi can anyone tell me how much time it is taking for h4 to receive their biometrics letter from uscis?It’s 9days from the receipt generated for h4,my husband”s extension is approved,so by now I should have received the biometrics letter ,but I have received only the h4 extension receipt .So can you tell me is this normal to take so long for uscis to send the biometrics letter?

      1. Radha

        I received my biometrics letter after 15days from the date when my h4 receipt was generated. Now my biometrics are done it’s 5days over But in uscis case status it is not showing.Nothng is updated in uscis case status.When I rang at uscis call center for not receiving my biometrics letter,they said that the notice was not generated yet,but when I received the biometrics notice I found it was generated long back.

        1. Suresh

          USCIS received our H4 petition on April 12 , we have completed biometrics on Apr 29th and still the status has not been updated. Seems like the wait time is more than 2 or 3 months after biometrics

  3. Aniket

    My scnenario

    I94 expires on Nov 2019 .
    Visa valid till Nov 2019.

    planning to apply only h1 on premium and travelling to india with my spounse (H4) on oct and submitting docs for dropbox.

    Since i am eligible for Dropbox, even dependent is eligible for drop box , how can i schedule her only for bio metrics (as per new biometrics rule) ?

    I thought under IWP you dont need to go for biometrics , so it seems like
    only h4 would have to travel for biometrics.

    can you please clarify.

  4. achyutha

    I filed my H1 and H4 in March before the Biometric was introduced for H4 in normal processing, I am now planning to file for H4 EAD extension using my receipt notice. My question is do we need biometric in this case , should I send an additonal $85 check

    Thanks,
    Achyutha

  5. Raj

    No, you cannot continue working unless you get your approved H-4 EAD in hand. Working on EAD receipt notice is only for some categories and C(26) is not in that list.

  6. Rakesh

    Hi,
    I got my H1B transfer approval on May-21, Now I got H4 Biometric for my spouse and kid request on June-6. How long USCIS will take to approve the H4 Applications. Also my spouse is on H4EAD. My last day at current employer is June-7. Can he still continue his work on EAD after June 7 ? Please help me . I am very confused.

  7. ST

    @Kumar: I had filed H1+H4+EAD in premium. My H1 is approved and now waiting for biometrics and EAD. Its already been 15 days and I have still not received biometrics info. USCIS said they will process it normally. If I see their time lines H4 processing is taking 3-5 months and EAD will take additional 3-5 months. What if I leave USA, and get H4 stamped. What will happed to my H4 & EAD applications? Will it continue to get processed or do I have to re-apply again? Unfortunately my current employer will not wait this long and was trying to see alternatives.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Your H4 will be abandoned, if you travel out and your EAD will be denied as well, due to the H4 abandonment. You can get new visa stamping outside of US and re-enter US, then apply for H4 EAD.

    2. SR

      In the same case – If we do a SEVIS Transfer while H4 and H4 EAD is in process (Spouse is moving from F1 to H4) – what will happen to H4 and H4 EAD applications?

      1. administrator
        Kumar

        You can do it, but make sure you submit a H4 and EAD withdraw letter to USCIS, so that that one will be taken care.

        1. SR

          I was expecting that in this case – I will be in F1 Status till H4 and H4 EAD is approved with COS.

          My Question was – Can I work with SEVIS Transfer till I get my H4 and H4 EAD Approval

          1. administrator
            Kumar

            You will not get any status, until that status is approved by USCIS. No, in general, you cannot work on F1 visa without having CPT or OPT…

  8. Rama

    My H1 premium extension just got approved, however, my wife’s H4 biometric address is in Texas instead of California, we called and canceled the biometric appointment in Texas and requested them to change address, how long does the change of address take and a new appointment take?

    Can you apply for another H1 transfer or visit to India when the Biometric appointment is pending?

  9. Rajesh

    Hello, I filed by H1B on 26th April. H1B got approved. I have receipt notices for H4 and EAD but still no biometrics information. What should i do?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Give it few more days, if you do not hear back, then check with Customer Service or Visit ASC closer to you to get more info.

      1. Raj

        Have been trying to call customer care and do not respond. Should I just go to asc office. Will take able to take biometrics without physically copy of biometrics request.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Well, if you have it close by, does not hurt to give it a shot and visit the ASC office. Or give it some more time…

  10. Jai

    Hi, I have applied for H1B and H4 extension while in USA. Currently we are back to India and got a Biometrics notification to be done in USA. Can we do the biometrics in India?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Yes, you can call the nearest US embassy / Consulate and arrange for the same. Read the article above, it has an FAQ for your situation.

  11. Simi

    My employer filed my H1B extension and H4 visa extension for my child under premium processing on March 19. My H1B application was approved for 3 years but my daughter’s H4 application was sent back with request for biometric fees and processing. The lawyers re-filed the petition on April 10 and included the appropriate fee. Will USCIS adjudicate my child’s application immediately after the completion of the biometrics as a courtesy to the main H1B premium processing application or will the re-filed child’s petition not be considered as part of premium processing. If it is considered under regular processing how long will the entire biometric appointment process take?

      1. ST

        @Kumar. For some it’s been over 1 month after giving biometrics. I know USCIS mentioned that they would process it as soon as they receive biometrics as a general courtesy. Do you think they will be processing it normally . Whats holding them up?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          One of the users shared that they got email from USCIS stating that H4 will not be processed in premium processing…In general H4 was never eligible for Premium processing, but it was courtesy of USCIS in the past to adjudicate them together in premium…now, with H4 they are doing that courtesy faster approvals, at least for now…we need to see what happens.

  12. Lori McDonald

    We are a company that does I129 and I539. All of the Biometrics are being scheduled close to our address instead of the Familes whom we filed the petition for. What address are they using for this?

  13. Subhayan

    Hello there
    As mentioned in this blog that “for the H4 and H4 EAD petitions filed together H1B petition, USCIS will wait for the biometric processing to be complete and then adjudicate immediately once that is complete to as a courtesy of the main H1B premium processing application.”

    However When I checked with Fragomen legal team they said
    “If you file your H-1B under premium processing from the very start of the case the H-4 will not benefit from courtesy premium processing due to the biometrics requirement. ”

    Anybody has any idea which one is correct ?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      We have already seen few users in our social media groups mentioned that they have filed H1B + H4 + H4EAD in premium and got their H1B approved, but H4 not yet approved and they got Biometrics Appointment letters mailed to them. The goal is USCIS will adjudicate as soon as the biometric process is complete, this was clarified in the USCIS stakeholder call.

  14. anonymous

    There should be some criteria for whom Biometrics is required for H4 dependents . Young kids from 0 to 17 years of age this Biometric may not be required and is a real hassle, if the policy could be reviewed and adjusted accordingly would be really good

  15. Ashutosh Pal

    I am on H1B and planning to go to India in June along with my family . My and my family’s I-94 is valid until October 2019 .

    Is it possible that I can only apply my H1 extension under premium processing in April but not file H4 extension for my family and take my family for new H4 Visa stamping in embassy in India based on my new petition that I should be getting in premium before leaving for India .
    This way , can I avoid H4 extension (and new filing new I-539) for my family in US ?

    1. Raj

      @Ashotosh, That is best and easy way. Just get you H-1 extended in premium and get your dependents visa stamped in India based on your H-1. Lot of folks do that.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      In general, for H4 to H1B, your H1B sponsor will use I-129 form for applying H1B petition and indicate COS in that, so there is no need to use I-539 form. So, it will not apply to your situation.

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