March 12, 2019

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing on All H-1B Petitions and Announces Procedural Changes for Form I-539 Filings

USCIS has resumed Premium Processing on all H-1B petitions as of today, March 12, 2019. For petitions that have received a Request for Evidence, a premium processing request should be filed with the response. For H-1B petitions that have been transferred to a different service center, the premium processing request must be sent to the service center that is now handling your petition. In order to reduce the possibility of delays, USCIS suggests including a copy of the transfer notice along with your request.

In addition, USCIS has also announced a change in the way it will handle Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status filings. On Friday, March 8, 2019 USCIS released an updated Form I-539 along with the following revisions to the process:

· Every co-applicant included on the I-539 must now sign and submit a separate Form I-539A.

· Every applicant and co-applicant must now pay an $85 biometric services fee. This fee is in addition to the I-539 filing fee.

· Every applicant and co-applicant must attend fingerprinting (Biometrics Services Appointment) at a USCIS Application Support Center.

Previously, if an I-539 was filed concurrently with an I-129 that requested Premium Processing, USCIS would also process the I-539 under premium processing times as a courtesy. USCIS has confirmed that this will no longer be possible now that I-539 applicants must appear for fingerprinting appointments; however, the agency confirmed that it would make every effort to process these I-539s expeditiously.

Starting on March 22, 2019, USCIS will only accept the revised version of Form I-539. USCIS will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16, or earlier, that is received by USCIS after March 21.

Due to these USCIS changes, additional time will now be required to complete the I-539A supplement for dependents and to follow up on required biometrics appointments. Accordingly, our firm’s legal fee for dependents’ change of status or extension of stay filings will increase as of March 22, 2019.

If you have any questions about the resumption of premium processing for H-1B petitions or if you need assistance filing Form I-539, please contact our office today.

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