Big Changes for H-4 Filings (and Other I-539 Filings)

USCIS has recently announced that a new Form I-539 will be available on March 11th. This is the form used to apply for an extension of status for H-4 and L-2, and to change status to these and other classifications. The major changes with the new form are as follows:

  • A signature will be required for the primary applicant and for each derivative applicant as well (i.e. child)
  • A biometrics fee (currently $85) will be required for each applicant (including derivative applicants)

Our team attended a listening session with USCIS on March 1st on this change and we also learned the following there:

  • USCIS said they will be taking the old form down on 3/8/19. They will accept the old forms if received at the lockbox location by 3/21/19. If an old form is received after 3/21/19 it will be rejected. Between now and 3/21/19 USCIS says they will accept the new forms but processing will not take place until 3/25. *Please note that this is what we understood from the listening session, but we highly recommend using the new form for any filing that is received by USCIS on or after 3/11/19.
  • USCIS stated the change comes with the goal of increasing screening for inadmissibility and fraud. The biometrics for dependents and children addition stems from the goal of identification verification.
  • Premium processing has not been available for H-4 filings, but in the past USCIS has "premium processed" an H-4 filing that was filed concurrently with an H-1B petition filed through premium processing as a courtesy. USCIS stated that now they will not be able to process the H-4s filed with premium processing H-1Bs, due to the new biometrics requirement.

US immigration processes and policies are changing almost daily, it seems. It is critical to stay on top of these changes to reduce the chance of delays or denials, and our team is here to help! We are immigration lawyers located in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. Contact us today to get started or to learn more about our services! You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com.

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