On May 3, 2021, as a result of litigation challenging processing delays, USCIS agreed that it will issue a policy to temporarily suspend biometrics requirements for I-539 applicants requesting an extension of stay or change of status for H-4, L-2, and E classifications. Processing delays have severely impacted the dependents of H-1B, L-1, and E nonimmigrant workers, and, in many cases, have resulted in the loss of employment authorization for spouses of these workers.
The suspension of the biometrics requirement is expected to begin May 17, 2021, and to be in effect for 24 months. The biometrics suspension will apply to H-4, L-2, and E-1, E-2, and E-3 classifications of Form I-539 applications pending as of the policy effective date (with no biometrics appointment notice issued), as well as to new applications received by USCIS after the effective date.
USCIS is taking additional measures to reduce processing delays and backlogs for pending I-539 applications and corresponding I-765 applications, including assigning additional officers to these cases. Currently USCIS reports a backlog of approximately 123,000 I-539 applications for H-4 and L-2 nonimmigrants and approximately 57,500 I-765 applications for H-4 and L-2 spouses.
Hopefully these actions will provide greater certainty to foreign nationals and employers in the near future.