On March 1, 2019, USCIS reported that I-539 applications filed concurrently with a qualifying I-129 petition will no longer be eligible for premium processing. USCIS announced the change was necessary to accommodate wait time on the biometrics appointments necessary for the Form I-539 adjudication.
As the result of a new Form I-539, released also in March 2019, each I-539 applicant is required to attend a biometrics appointment for the purpose of verifying applicants’ identities and combatting humanitarian concerns. The standard applies regardless of age.
It takes approximately three weeks for the biometrics to be completed, meaning I-539 applications can no longer be completed in the 15-day premium processing time frame. Due to the two different processing time standards, the I-129 and the I-539 applications will no longer be processed together, with the I-539 pending for what may be substantially longer. The gap between the two processing times proves an issue for some joint I-129, I-539 cases.
To avoid the issue of the biometrics appointment, some derivative applicants are opting instead for a nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. consulate abroad, filed after the primary I-129 petition is approved.
If you have concerns on how the new I-539 processing times may impact your case or are interested in our U.S. nonimmigrant visa services, please contact Berardi Immigration Law to schedule a consultation.