Starting on May 17, 2021, USCIS will suspend biometrics requirements for H-4 (dependents of H-1B visa holders), L-2 (dependents of L-1 visa holders), and E dependent (including E-1 Trader Visa, E-2 Investor Visa, and E-3 Specialty Occupation Visa) applicants seeking extension or change of status in the U.S. This suspension will last until May 17, 2023, unless otherwise extended or revoked.
The biometrics requirement for nonimmigrant dependent applicants was originally put in place by the Trump administration in March 2019. The change meant that all applicants were then required to appear in person to have their biometrics taken (fingerprints, photo, and digital signature), regardless of age. The applicant also had to pay a biometrics fee of $85 per each applicant. This caused a delay in processing of I-539 applications for dependents and, since the Trump administration also did away with premium processing for dependent applications, meant that the main applicant would often be approved months before their families would even receive a biometrics appointment. The suspension will likely shorten processing time for change and extension of status applicants and those applicants eligible to apply for a work permit as a dependent visa holder.
This new suspension applies to applicants in the H-4, L-2, and E dependents categories if their I-539 applications are pending on May 17 and they have not yet received a biometric appointment notice, or if their application is postmarked or submitted electronically on or after May 17, 2021. Applicants who receive a biometrics notice before May 17 should make sure to attend their scheduled appointment. Failure to attend may result in a denial of their application. USCIS also reserves the right to require biometrics for these applicants on a case-by-case basis if it is deemed necessary.
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