New I-539 Form USCIS Info

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

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 343 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 ( 343 )

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Raghav,
      You should have included the Biometrics fee with the application. Hopefully they issue RFE and you can send the fee check. Sometimes, they may return too…Call USCIS on this and ask them on what to do. Do update here too.

  1. Aakash

    Hi,
    My wife is on L1A visa and I am currently on L2 EAD. Her project is ending on 7/1/2020 but her i-94 is valid till 4/1/2021. Since we cannot leave US due to covid and her pregnancy, her company is applying for change of status to B2.

    Can I continue to work with my company on L2 EAD till her change of status is approved to B2 or do I need to stop working as soon as the change of status is applied for?

    Would appreciate any help in answering this. Thanks!

    Best,
    Aakash

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Aakash,
      You need to stop working the day the L1A status or job is done. having valid I-94 is not relevant here as you will not have status. So, stop working the same day your wife stops working. Talk to your spouse’s attorney too.

  2. Arj

    Hello Admin,

    My parent’s i94 expires on August 29. DGCA has a travel restriction in place until July 15th as of now.
    I am wondering if I should apply for her B2 extension right now or wait another month. Because if I apply now, her case would seem weak because there isn’t any travel restriction on her i94 expiry, it’s only until July 15 as it stands today.
    So reason would be just anticipation of further extension. Even though it seems very likely, it’s not the same as presenting hard evidence.
    Any suggestions on this please?

      1. Arj

        First, I will be losing these two months. We know processing times are quite high.

        Secondly, Parent has underlying conditions and I feel its safer for her to stay back here until situation eases in india. Maybe by end of 2020.

        Given the likelihood of sitaution worsening in both countries, I would want to apply now to use these 2 months July and August as processing time.

        Also, I heard its better to apply for extension 45 days prior to i94 expiry. I don’t understand why that is though.

        1. Raj

          You did not mention about the underlying conditions. If you are planning to extend for sure then you can start your documentation and post them at least 4 weeks ahead. 45 days is suggested time because if you make a mistake and USCIS returns the docs to you then you will have sufficient time to respond back before I-94 expiry date.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Arj,
      Yes, it does not sound compelling as there is still time. You should submit proof for extension. So, I would wait and see, if they extend. You may discuss with attorney too.

  3. Sana

    Hi, i entered US on 7 November 2019 at B1/B2 visa and had my return flight on 26 March 2020 but before that Pakistan suspended flights so i was not able to travel back. And got no flights before my I94 expires but i applied for extension on 23 April 2020 and still no response from Uscis not even for biometrics.
    Now when the flights are open i want to travel back home but still waiting for the pending decision of I539 extension.
    Can i travel with the pending application or should i wait for the decision? Will this effect my visitor visa for next trip?

  4. Viral

    Hi, my mother came to USA on June 12, 2019 on B2 and it was valid until December 11, 2019. I applied for the extension of six months on December 4, 2019 which was approved on June 15, 2020 but I have received the approval letter on June 19, 2020. There are no flights available to go back to India due to COVID 19 and she has medical condition as well that can put her life at risk so I applied for the extension again on June 19, 2020 again so USCIS will understand our situation ? and if she will get denial then her current visa will be voided and does she need to apply for B2 visa again ? and if she leaves the USA before decision come will that affect to her current visa ? can she come to the USA on same VISA?

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