An important change in the Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status took place on March 8, 2019, when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) replaced Form I-539 on its website. The USCIS is allowing a grace period for the use of the old form through the close of business on March 21, 2019. Beginning March 22, 2019, the USCIS will reject any application submitted to the office on a Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier. A revised Form I-539A is also on the USCIS website. Only the revised Supplement A can be filed with the new Form I-539.

Because of the significant changes with the revised Form I-539, applicants may want to contact a Virginia immigration attorney before filing an application.

Three Important Changes Coming with the Revised Form I-539

Three of changes that applicants will notice when they file their Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status and Supplement A are:

  • Co-applicants are now required to sign a Form I-539A. The supplements must be filed with the primary applicant’s Form I-539. If a co-applicant is a minor under the age of 14 years or an individual who lacks the mental competency to sign the supplemental form, a guardian or parent may sign the form on behalf of the co-applicant.
  • According to the instructions in the revised Form I-539, all applicants and co-applicants must pay a biometric service fee of $85 per person. There are limited exceptions explained in the form’s instructions, including exceptions for certain NATO, A, and G nonimmigrants.
  • All applicants and co-applicants will be scheduled for a biometric service appointment at the Application Support Center (ASC) that is closest to the applicant’s primary residence. Any co-applicant that desires an appointment at a difference ASC location must file a separate Form I-539. This requirement applies to all applicants and co-applicants, regardless of the person’s age. A notice of the biometric service appointment will be forwarded to an applicant and each co-applicant.

Processing Time May Be Impacted With the Revisions of Form I-539

With the addition of the biometrics requirement, the processing time for Form I-539 is expected to increase. In the past, the USCIS would process Form I-539 and Form I-529 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) together. If the forms were filed together with a premium processing fee, the USCIS would typically process both forms in just a few weeks. Likewise, Applications for Employment Authorization was also processed concurrently with Form I-539.

However, the biometrics requirement is likely to increase the processing time for Form I-539 significantly. Therefore, forms that were typically processed together may have vastly different timelines.

The impact on employers and employees could be significant. Employers who have employees facing a deadline may want to work with a Virginia immigration attorney now to complete the revised Form I-539 and gather documentation required to be submitted with the form so that filing may be accomplished the first day the applicant qualifies to file the form.

Contact a Virginia Immigration Attorney for More Information

Immigration laws are complex, and changes in policies related to immigration and vetting are making some issues even more complex. A small error on a form can result in substantial delays or denials.
Working with a Virginia immigration attorney can help you avoid mistakes that increase processing time. Schedule a consult with an experienced immigration attorney is also well-versed in the latest updates and changes to immigration policies and laws.

Posted in: Immigration