Foreign nationals, especially spouses and dependents of nonimmigrant workers and students, are warned that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This form is used by nonimmigrants to extend their stay in the U.S. or change to another nonimmigrant status, as well as for F and M students applying for reinstatement. The new form was issued on March 11, 2019 and after March 21, 2019, USCIS will accept only the newly revised version of the form, with an edition date of Feb. 4, 2019. All other versions of the form, including the current one dated Dec. 23, 2016, will be rejected. Additionally a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, generally used to extend or change status of dependent children, has been being revised and published.

Both forms have new and significant signature and fee requirements and the failure to use the new forms or provide required signatures or fees after March 11, 2019 could adversely impact applicants and their dependents. Most seriously, applicants whose Forms I-539 and I-539A are rejected by USCIS could fall out of lawful nonimmigrant status, be ineligible to reapply for an extension or change of status, and begin to accrue unlawful presence in the United States.  

The Forms I-539 and I539A are generally used by foreign students, visitors and dependents of nonimmigrant workers (e.g. persons in B-1/2, E-2, H-4, L-2, O-3, P-3) to extend or change their nonimmigrant status, and there are significant changes that must be followed to avoid having USCIS reject these forms. Importantly, every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A; previously, the form simply noted the co-applicants’ personal and U.S. admission information, but now each applicant, including children, must sign this form. For children under the age of 14, a parent or legal guardian must sign on their behalf.  

There are additional pre- and post-filing requirements as well. The I-539 filing fee remains $370, but every applicant and co-applicant, regardless of age, must now pay an $85 biometric services fee at the time the application(s) are submitted to USCIS. They will then receive biometric services appointment notices to appear in person at a USCIS Application Support Center to have their biometrics taken (i.e. fingerprints, photo and/or digital signature). Again, this is required of all applicants, and USCIS will reject any Form I-539 or Form I-539A that is missing any of the required signatures or biometrics fees. Further, failure to appear and complete the biometrics process could result in the denial of the I-539 application.