USCIS Extends Last Day to Submit Current Version of Form I-539
As indicated in our previous Immigration Alert, UCSIS will be publishing a new version of the Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. USCIS recently announced that it will begin rejecting any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier that is received by USCIS after March 21, 2019. Starting on March 22, 2019, USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19.
The revised Form I-539 includes the following significant changes:
Signature Required for Every Co-Applicant – Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A, which will be available on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11, 2019. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or for any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.
New Biometrics Fee for Every Applicant and Co-Applicant – Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an additional $85 biometric services fee (Regardless of Age), except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions to be published on March 11, 2019.
New Biometrics Requirement – Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.
USCIS also indicated that the new biometrics requirement will result in longer processing times for H-4 extensions and H-4 EAD renewals filed concurrently with a premium processed H-1B petition.
DHS Submits Proposed Rule to Terminate H-4 EAD Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
As indicated in our previous Immigration Alert, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to propose a new regulation rescinding the H-4 employment authorization document (EAD) program. On February 20, 2019, DHS submitted the proposed rule to OMB. OMB has up to ninety (90) days to review and comment on the proposed rule, although it could be finalized and issued to the public sooner.
When the proposed rule is issued, the next steps would be a period of time for public comment which is typically 30-60 days long and then issuance of the final rule. The rulemaking process will take several months, so a regulation could be finalized in the middle to late 2019.
DHS has not indicated whether it will provide a transition period during which current H-4 EAD holders may continue to work or renew their EADs, however at this time the H-4 EAD rule remains in place and all eligible foreign nationals who plan to apply for or renew an EAD under the H-4 program should do so as soon as they are eligible. Foreign nationals can file an EAD renewal application up to six months before the expiration of their current document. In addition, it may be prudent to discuss filing in other visa categories in advance of the rescission of the program.
USCIS Publishes Report on Common Types of H-1B RFEs in FY 2018
USCIS published a report titled
. While the report does not include statistics, it does summarize ten (10) of the most common types of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) issued in connection with H-1B petitions. The most common RFE topics include: Specialty Occupation, Employer-Employee Relationship, Availability of Offsite Work, and Beneficiary Qualifications. Understanding Requests for Evidence (RFEs): A Breakdown of Why RFEs Were Issued for H-1B Petitionsin Fiscal Year 2018
USCIS Extends Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Beneficiaries from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador until January 2, 2020
On March 1, 2019,
USCIS published a notice in the announcing the automatic extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador until January 2, 2020. This extension follows the injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that prevents DHS from implementing and enforcing the decisions to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador, pending the resolution of ongoing litigation. Federal Register