USCIS Announces Exemption of Biometric Services Fee for Form I-539 Applicants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has officially declared the exemption of the biometric services fee for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, effective from October 1, 2023. The announcement follows a series of measures aimed at streamlining the application process and reducing financial burdens on applicants.

USCIS had initially introduced a temporary suspension of biometrics submission requirements for certain Form I-539 applicants, which was extended until September 30. Concurrently, the agency had expressed its intention to eliminate the biometrics requirement altogether for all I-539 applicants.

Starting October 1, 2023, USCIS will no longer require applicants to pay the $85 biometric services fee when submitting Form I-539 for extending or changing nonimmigrant status. This exemption will apply to all applications postmarked on or after this date.

However, applicants who file Form I-539 prior to October 1 may still be scheduled for an Application Support Center (ASC) appointment to provide biometric data and are expected to attend those appointments as scheduled.

In most cases, applicants submitting their applications after October 1 will not be scheduled for biometric services appointments. However, if USCIS determines that biometric data is necessary for an application, the applicant will receive a notice detailing the process for attending their biometric services appointment.

In cases where applicants mistakenly submit the biometric services fee separately from the Form I-539 fee, USCIS will return the biometric services fee and proceed to accept the Form I-539 application. On the other hand, if the biometric services fee is incorrectly combined with the paper-based Form I-539 filing fee, the application will be rejected as an incorrect filing.

Furthermore, if an applicant inadvertently authorizes a credit card payment that combines the biometric services fee with the Form I-539 application fee, USCIS will accept the application and only charge the application fee.

This biometric services fee exemption applies to all applicants filing on or after October 1, 2023, including those filing Form I-539 for an extension of stay or change of status to H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant statuses, for whom USCIS had previously suspended the biometrics requirement through September 30, 2023.

USCIS has reaffirmed its commitment, as outlined in the USCIS Fiscal Year 2022 Progress Report, to its goal of completely removing the biometric services fee and requirement for all Form I-539 applicants, marking a positive step towards facilitating the immigration process for nonimmigrants in the United States.