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AILA Doc. No. 19021234 | Dated March 8, 2019
Today, USCIS published on the USCIS website revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Both forms have an edition date of 2/4/19 and an expiration date of 8/31/20. USCIS has also published new form instructions for these forms to the USCIS website.
As of today, USCIS has removed the 12/23/16 version of Form I-539 from the USCIS website but will be allowing for a grace period, until close of business on 3/21/19, for that version to be received by USCIS. Starting on 3/22/19, USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 2/4/19, and will reject any Form I-539 or Form I-539A with an edition date of 12/23/16, or earlier, that is received by USCIS after 3/21/19.
When submitting the revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A, AILA members are reminded that:
On March 1, 2019, USCIS held a teleconference to discuss revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A. USCIS provided the following updates during the engagement, among others:
This information is currently posted on the I-539 page of the USCIS website.
As previously announced, the revised Form I-539 includes the following significant changes:
USCIS will reject any revised Form I-539 that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees, including those required for Form I-539A.
On February 28, 2019, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman released an announcement reminding stakeholders that USCIS will publish on its website and only accept revised Form I-539 and Form I-539A (edition date 02/04/19) starting March 11, 2019. The CIS Ombudsman also shared with the public copies of the unofficial versions of the revised Form I-539 and Form I-539A so that the public can review the anticipated changes. USCIS plans to publish the revised forms on the USCIS website on March 11, 2019.
On February 22, 2019, USCIS announced that it will be holding a teleconference on March 1, 2019, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm (ET) to discuss the requirements involved with the revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A. USCIS will provide information about the revised forms as well as the biometric and filing requirements.
To join the engagement, please use the following information to join the teleconference: Toll-Free (inside the U.S.): 1-888-469-1981; Toll (outside the U.S.): 1-630-395-0027 Passcode: 4995430.
On February 21, 2019, AILA sent a letter to USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna requesting that USCIS delay the March 11, 2019, effective date of revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A and adopt a 90-day grace period until June 9, 2019, to continue to accept the current version of Form I-539 and Supplement A (12/23/16 edition). AILA also requested that USCIS suspend the mandatory biometric appointment requirement, and corresponding biometric fee, for all I-539 applicants until the regulated public has had a meaningful opportunity to comment on this new requirement.
On February 20, 2019, USCIS updated its website regarding the publication of revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A. The website, which indicates that on March 11, 2019, USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19, has now been updated to add that USCIS will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier that is received by USCIS after March 8.
On February 11, 2019, USCIS announced that it had revised the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status as of February 4, 2019, and that it plans to publish the revised form on the USCIS website on March 11, 2019. Starting on March 11, 2019, USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 and will reject any prior edition dates. USCIS also announced that it will be publishing a new I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status that will replace the prior Supplement A. For more information, see the USCIS notice posted to AILA's website. It is important to note that the revised Form I-539 has significant changes, including the requirement that every co-applicant pay a biometrics fee and attend an ASC appointment, regardless of age.
Among other issues, AILA is concerned that there will be no grace period for the prior edition of Form I-539, that the new edition of Form I-539 will be released on the same day that it is made mandatory, and that the release of this new edition poses a timing challenge given the impending H-1B season. AILA and the USCIS Headquarters Liaison Committee is reaching out to USCIS with these and other concerns, and will update this practice alert with any developments. If USCIS does not agree to defer the effective date of the new I-539 form and biometrics requirement, AILA's Administrative Litigation Task Force (ALTF) will consider litigation options.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19021234.