U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will publish a revised Form I-539 Change/Extension of Status on March 11 and will begin requiring biometrics appointments for applicants. Form I-539 is required for change or extension of status for certain visa holders and for derivative family members of nonimmigrant visa holders, including H-4 spouses of H-1B workers.

Key points:

  • The new version of the form will not be available until March 11 on the USCIS website. USCIS will only accept the new versions on and after March 11 and will reject any previous versions.
  • Each applicant and co-applicant must pay a $85 biometrics fee when filing the form, and will receive a notice scheduling an appointment for their biometrics (digital photo and fingerprints) to be taken at their nearest USCIS application support center.
  • A new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status will also be released March 11, replacing the current Supplement A. Each family member of the primary Form I-539 applicant must sign and submit a separate Form I-539A and the forms must be submitted together.

Background: Form I-539 Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status is filed by dependents of nonimmigrant visa holders, including H, L, E, O and others such as B-1/B-2 visitors, as well as individuals changing to F, J or M status. The full list is available on the instructions to Form I-539.

BAL Analysis: H-1B employees and other nonimmigrant visa holders and their family dependents should be prepared to work with their BAL professional to sign the new forms soon after they are released on March 11, particularly H-4 spouses, as the release date of the form leaves only three weeks to gather all signatures before H-1B cap season opens on April 1. Derivative family members filing the new Form I-539/I-539A will need to appear in person for their biometrics appointments and should anticipate delays, as USCIS introduces the new process. Processing of Employment Authorization Documents (EAD’s) when filed concurrently with I-539 applications may also be delayed.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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