Effective May 17, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will suspend the biometrics requirements for certain I-539 applicants for a two-year period beginning on May 17, 2021. The biometrics suspension will apply to the H-4, L-2, and E-1, E-2, and E-3 categories of Form I-539 applications if they are 1) pending on May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice, and 2) are new applications received by USCIS from May 17, 2021, through May 23, 2022. The significant volume of pending cases related to Form I-539 are particularly impacting the timeframe for USCIS to adjudicate the related employment authorization applications (Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization) for H-4 nonimmigrants (spouses and children of H-1B nonimmigrants), L-2 nonimmigrants (spouses and children of L-1 nonimmigrants), and certain E nonimmigrants (dependents of E-1, E-2 and E-3 principal nonimmigrants).
While DHS regulations provide for an automatic extension of employment authorization for certain EAD renewals, H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrants are not included in the applicable automatic renewal provisions. Form I-765 cannot be approved until after the dependent spouse’s underlying H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant status is granted or extended upon approval of Form I-539.
Suspending biometrics requirements for 24 months for H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrants filing Form I-539 who meet the criteria above should provide sufficient time for USCIS to address the processing delays that have been exacerbated by limited ASC capacity due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. USCIS has decided to suspend biometrics submission for all H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrants (in other words, both dependent spouses and children) filing Forms I-539 rather than limiting the suspension to only those dependent spouses who are also filing Form I-765 because it would not be operationally feasible to treat dependent children differently from dependent spouses. USCIS will continue to monitor ASC capacity and adjudication processing times for Form I-539 and Form I-765 and may adjust or extend this suspension as circumstances change.
USCIS will not require the biometrics fee for the applicable categories during the effective period. This action should help address the substantial backlog and reduce overall processing time for these applications.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Neil Dornbaum, Co-chair of Connell Foley's Corporate Immigration and Global Mobility practice, is recognized as one of the most active and distinguished immigration attorneys in New Jersey. Prior to joining the firm, Neil was a ...
Kathleen M. Peregoy is a highly accomplished immigration attorney and serves as Co-chair of Connell Foley's Corporate Immigration and Global Mobility practice. Prior to joining the firm, Kathleen was a partner at Dornbaum & ...