Biometrics Requirement Waived for Certain I-539 Applicants & New Telephone Rescheduling for Biometrics Appointments — Visa Lawyer Blog — May 13, 2021
In this blog post, we share with you some new biometrics updates recently announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Biometrics Submissions Waived for Certain I-539 Applicants
Beginning May 17, 2021, USCIS will be temporarily suspending the biometrics submission requirement for applicants filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, who are requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrant status.
Starting on Monday next week, for these applicants only, USCIS will rely on biographical information and related background checks, without requiring applicants to provide fingerprints and a photograph. This new discretionary policy will be in effect until May 17, 2023, until it is extended or revoked by the USCIS director.
Who will not be required to submit to biometrics submission?
Pursuant to this new announcement, the temporary biometrics suspension will apply to applicants filing Form I-539 requesting the following:
- Extension of stay in or change of status to H-4 nonimmigrant status;
- Extension of stay in or change of status to L-2 nonimmigrant status;
- Extension of stay in or change of status to E-1 nonimmigrant status;
- Extension of stay in or change of status to E-2 nonimmigrant status (including E-2C (E-2 CNMI Investor)); or
- Extension of stay in or change of status to E-3 nonimmigrant status (including those selecting E-3D).
This suspension will apply only to the above categories of Form I-539 applications that are either:
- Pending as of May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice; or
- New applications postmarked or submitted electronically on or after May 17, 2021.
Will eligible I-539 applicants still need to pay the biometrics fee?
No. Applicants who meet the above criteria are not required to submit the $85 biometrics service fee for Form I-539 effective May 17, 2021 through the suspension period.
USCIS will return a biometric services fee if it has been submitted separately from the base fee.
Will USCIS reject my submission if I include a biometrics services fee with an I-539 application postmarked on or after May 27, 2021?
The agency will provide a short grace period during which USCIS will not reject Form I-539 filed with the biometric services fee.
However, after the grace period, USCIS will begin rejecting paper Form I-539 applications postmarked May 27, 2021, or later (while this suspension of the biometrics requirement is in effect), if applicants meeting the above criteria submit a single payment covering both the filing fee and the $85 biometrics services fee.
If USCIS rejects the paper application because the applicant included the $85 biometrics service fee after the grace period, the applicant will need to re-file Form I-539 without the biometric services fee.
The Temporary Suspension of Biometrics is Discretionary
It is important to note that this new policy change is discretionary which means that USCIS retains the authority to require the submission of biometrics for applicants even if they meet the above criteria. Consequently, USCIS may still decide on a case-by-case basis to continue to require certain applicants to be scheduled for an application support center (ASC) appointment to submit biometrics where the agency finds it necessary.
What if I have already received a biometrics appointment notice?
USCIS has stated that Form I-539 applicants who have already received a biometric services appointment notice should still attend their scheduled appointment.
For more information about this new policy click here.
USCIS Announces Applicants Can Now Reschedule Biometrics by Telephone
Additionally, on Tuesday this week, USCIS announced that applicants can now call the USCIS Contact Center at (800-375-5283) to reschedule a biometric services appointments that was scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center.
We are happy to hear about this exciting new development because previously requests to reschedule a biometrics services appointment could only be made in writing. This new telephone system will help streamline the process and eliminate backlogs for those waiting in line for appointments.
To reschedule a biometrics services appointment, applicants must be prepared to show good cause, and contact the USCIS Contact Center BEFORE the date and time of the originally scheduled appointment. Failure to call BEFORE the scheduled appointment date or failure to show good cause, may result in an application or petition being abandoned or denied.
Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
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