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USCIS Suspends Biometrics Appointments for Certain I-539 Applicants

Posted by Hugo R. Valverde, Managing Attorney, and Anna D. Colby, Attorney Social Media Marketing Manager | Jul 09, 2023 | 0 Comments

Photo by George Prentzas on Unsplash

Fingerprint usage in 2023 is fairly common - unlocking iphones, background checks, even Disneyworld is now using fingerprint technology for people to access its parks! 

Since fingerprints have become such an easy and unique recognition tool, USCIS' latest announcement about them may feel surprising - it has suspended biometrics (fingerprint) appointments for certain I-539 applicants. 

To be fair, USCIS is continuing its suspension of biometrics appointments for certain I-539 applicants. It had previously announced a temporary suspension of biometric appointments for certain I-539 applicants - from May 17, 2021 until May 17, 2023. 

Now, USCIS is extending that temporary suspension through September 30, 2023

What is an I-539?

An I-539 form is an application to extend or change nonimmigrant status. It is used by the following groups of people:

  • Certain nonimmigrants extending their stay or changing to another nonimmigrant status;
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) residents applying for an initial grant of status;
  • F and M nonimmigrants applying for reinstatement; and,
  • Persons seeking V nonimmigrant status or an extension of stay as a V nonimmigrant.

But the biometrics suspension does not apply to all the people listed above. USCIS stated that the suspension only applies to the following applicants:

  • Persons requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to:
    • H-4, 
    • L-2, or 
    • E nonimmigrant status.

For those specific categories listed above, USCIS will move forward based on biographic information and background checks, without the typical fingerprints and photograph obtained in a biometrics appointment. However, USCIS retains the right to require biometrics for any applicant, in its discretion.

Do I Still Have to Pay a Biometrics Fee?

No. If you're application meets the criteria listed above, you should not submit the $85 biometrics fee with your application. If you do, USCIS may return it, or even reject the entire application.

USCIS has stated that it plans on establishing a permanent biometrics exemption for all Form I-539 applicants in the coming months, but it has not yet announced the official start of that permanent exemption. 

If you have questions about an immigration petition please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

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