February 14, 2019

On February 4, 2019, USCIS announced that a new Form I-539 application to change or extend nonimmigrant status will be effective on March 11 – just in time to seriously interfere with this year’s H-1B cap filings for those workers with dependents in the United States. The new form imposes a signature requirement on all co-applicants (parents may sign for kids under 14, but children ages 14 and up will each have to sign for themselves), and mandates the new Form I-539A, which will not be published until the effective date of March 11, 2019. The Service has also introduced a biometrics requirement for all I-539 applicants, adding the $85 per person biometrics fee per each individual co-applicant, and the requirement of in-person appearance at an Application Support Center. Reminder: While exempt from the fingerprinting requirement, children under 14 will have to appear for digital photographs at an ASC.

Per general USCIS rules on biometrics, the $85.00 fee should NOT be imposed on children under age 14, but mailroom contractors will undoubtedly (and erroneously) reject plenty of properly-filed I-539 applications on this ground.