USCIS extends suspension for extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant status
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended the temporary suspension of the biometrics submission requirement for certain applicants filing Form I-539.
The previously announced suspension, which was initially in place until May 17, 2023, has been extended through Sep 30, 2023, the immigration agency announced Wednesday.
The extension of suspension will apply to applications to extend/change nonimmigrant status, requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant status.
Read: New bill to allow automatic work permits to H-4 spouses (April 8, 2022)
H-4 & L-2 visas are common forms of work authorization in the United States. Under the H-4 visa, family members of H-1B visa holders can enter the United States for the same period of time as the worker.
An L-2 visa is a treaty investor visa for individuals who are citizens of a country with a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. Countries include Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, and Canada.
E visa includes treaty traders and investors who come to the United States under a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of which they are a citizen or national.
USCIS said it will allow adjudications for those specific categories to proceed based on biographic information and related background checks, without capturing fingerprints and a photograph.
Read: Everything you need to know about H-4 EAD, L-2 settlement (November 16, 2021)
However, it would retain discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to require biometrics for any applicant, and applicants may be scheduled for an application support center appointment to submit biometrics.
A USCIS release said Form I-539 applicant meeting the biometrics suspension criteria, do not need to submit the $85 biometric services fee for Form I-539 during the suspension period.
USCIS will return a biometric services fee if submitted separately from the base fee and will reject paper Form I-539 applications of those meeting the above criteria and submit a single payment covering both the filing fee and the $85 biometrics services fee.
If USCIS rejects the paper application because the applicants included the $85 biometrics service fee, they will need to re-file Form I-539 without the biometric services fee.
As mentioned in the USCIS Fiscal Year 2022 Progress Report, USCIS plan to establish a permanent biometrics exemption for all Form I-539 applicants in the coming months.
For additional information on the temporary suspension, please see the 2021 announcement.