As noted in a previous article, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status in March 2019. Starting on March 22, 2019, USCIS began to only accept the revised Form I-539 and began rejecting any Form I-539 or Form I-539A with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier.
On March 1, 2019, USCIS had a teleconference with stakeholders to discuss the revised I-539 and I-539A forms. During the teleconference, USUCIS stated that it would no longer continue its prior practice of providing “courtesy” premium process service to I-539 applications filed concurrently with a qualifying I-129 petition. This is due to the fact that the revised Form I-539 now requires a new biometric requirement. As such, I-539 applications are now separated from the I-129 petitions and are no longer eligible for premium processing.
I-539 biometrics generally take at least three weeks to be completed, while USCIS’s premium processing is a 15-day timeframe. Although attempts have been made to file an I-539 concurrently with an I-129 with premium processing after the biometrics are completed – in an attempt to get both the I-129 and I-539 adjudicated with premium processing – these have been unsuccessful, as USCIS is not obligated to adjudicate the I-129 and I-539 concurrently. It should be noted that I-539 applications may take substantially longer to process than the principal I-129 petition.