Earlier this month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its plan to release a revised Form I-539 and Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (edition date 02/04/19) on March 11, 2019. The revised form makes several changes, including the addition of signature and biometrics fee requirements.
Immediately following this announcement, stakeholders contacted the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) with concerns regarding how USCIS was going to transition to the revised form. Leveraging an established, collaborative partnership with USCIS, the CIS Ombudsman met with USCIS leadership to share these concerns, discuss the operational challenges related to form changes, and offer specific recommendations on how USCIS could address them.
As a result of our conversations, USCIS hosted a teleconference on March 1, 2019 to discuss the revised forms and hear stakeholder concerns. In this teleconference, USCIS announced that it would modify its plan for implementing the revised forms. These changes include posting the revised I-539 and I-539A three days early and granting a 10-day grace period for those who file with the old version.
Thus, USCIS will publish the revised Forms I-539 and I-539A on its website on March 8, 2019, and start accepting these new forms on March 11, 2019. However, USCIS will continue to accept the old Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 if it is received at a USCIS Lockbox by close of business on March 21, 2019. As of March 22, 2019, the USCIS Lockbox will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier, and will only accept the revised Forms I-539 and I-539A with an edition date of 02/04/19.
To help USCIS to manage two versions of forms simultaneously, during the 10-day transition period USCIS will: (1) hold the new Forms I-539 or I-539A received at a USCIS Lockbox for processing until March 22, 2019, and (2) issue a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, with a receipt date based on when the USCIS Lockbox actually received the filing.
Stakeholders can review these updates, along with additional information related to the new forms on USCIS’ website. A summary of the teleconference will be posted on the USCIS Electronic Reading Room website.
The CIS Ombudsman appreciates our USCIS colleagues engaging with our office to hear from our stakeholders and their quick response in addressing questions. These solutions help mitigate concerns that were raised to our office and provide clear and transparent guidance to the public.