On April 19, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an extension of the temporary suspension of the biometrics requirement for certain individuals filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, through September 30, 2023. This means that individuals filing Form I-539 to request an extension of or change of status to H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2, or E-3 nonimmigrant status will not be required to submit the $85 biometric services fee or attend a biometrics appointment, provided that the application is submitted by September 30, 2023. However, USCIS retains discretion on a case-by-case basis to require biometrics from any applicant, as needed.
The requirement for all applicants filing Form I-539 to attend biometrics appointments was first introduced by USCIS on March 11, 2019, as part of the application process. However, this additional step, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and related USCIS office closures, led to unprecedented processing delays for Form I-539 applications. To address these delays and related lawsuits filed against USCIS, the agency first suspended the biometrics requirement on May 17, 2021, with an initial expiration date of May 17, 2023. The most recent announcement from USCIS extends the temporary suspension through September 30, 2023.
This extension may indicate that further changes in biometrics requirements for Form I-539 applicants are forthcoming. In its Fiscal Year 2022 Progress Report, published in December 2022, USCIS expressed its intention to fully remove the requirement that all Form I-539 applicants submit biometrics in the coming months. USCIS reiterated this commitment in its April 19 announcement of this extension.