U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be suspending biometric screening requirements for H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2, and E-3 dependent visa holders for two years starting 17th May 2021. This suspension will automatically expire 17th May 2023, subject to certifiable extension or revocation by the USCIS Director. The suspension will apply to Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status applications. That is pending on the effective date of the policy and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice. Also, it will apply to newly filed applications got by USCIS after the effective date of the policy through the expiration date.
The suspension of the biometric screening requirement for I-539s took effect on 11th March 2019. Also, it has caused historically lengthy delays in processing I-539 applications. Coronavirus-related closures and capacity limitations of Application Support Centers. Where biometrics are taken, has created an unprecedented backlog of cases awaiting biometrics appointments.
USCIS Announces Two Year Suspension of Biometric Screening Requirement
The biometrics appointment delays for Form I-539 have in turn resulted in adjudication delays for the related Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. In many circumstances, I-765 applications can’t be approved until after the I-539 application is approved and the underlying H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant status is allowed or expanded.
This action comes as a result of a class-action lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Seattle. Which declared that the Agency’s processing times of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. It was impermissibly long and resulted in a loss of employment due to extended gaps in employment authorization.
USCIS will in any case hold discretion to require biometrics on a case-by-case basis. And any candidate who might be booked for an ASC appointment will be needed to submit biometrics. For identity verification and other screening purposes.