Working on Form I-539 to Change or Extend Status? Get Old Version to USCIS Before March 21, 2019

Unlike some new forms issued by USCIS in the past, this latest I-539 includes major changes.

** LEGAL UPDATE **

If you are temporarily in the United States, and planning to extend your stay or change your status in the U.S. using Form I-539 issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you'll need to factor the following into your plans: USCIS is about to issue a new version of this form.

That means two important things:

  1. If you submit the old version, and it ARRIVES at the USCIS office after March 21, 2019, it will be rejected, and
  2. If you don't make that March 21 deadline, and you must use the newer form version (to be published March 8), you will also need to comply with some new application requirements.

This isn't one of those cases where the new form just fiddles with the formatting or adds a question or two. Unlike various new forms issued by USCIS in the past, this latest I-539 includes major changes.

Most notably, spouses and children can no longer all be included on the main applicant's form. Instead, they will on need to submit and sign a separate application, on Form I-539A, called a Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. If a child or other derivative applicant is under age 14 or is not mentally competent, a parent or guardians may sign on that person's behalf.

Another major change is that everyone submitting either an I-539 or I-539A, regardless of the person's age, will need to pay an $85 biometric services fee and attend a biometric (fingerprinting) appointment, for purposes of an identity/security check. (Exceptions will be made for certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants.)

Thus for reasons of both finances and avoiding hassle, it would be worth submitting the older version of Form I-539 as soon as possible.

Effective Date: March 1, 2019