USCIS to Suspend Biometrics – H4, L2 & H4EAD relief

May 13, 2021, It’s official now. Effective May 17, 2021, USCIS Temporarily Suspends Biometrics Requirement for Certain Form I-539 Applicants. This temporary suspension will apply to applicants filing Form I-539( H-4, L-2, E1, E2, E3) nonimmigrant status.

May 4 2021, There has been many lawsuits to expedite H4EAD approval. In one of the lawsuit in US Court, Immigration Attorney Wasden Banias confirmed that USCIS will remove biometrics for all H4 and L2 applications by May 17,2021. This should help many skilled immigrant women to continue the Job.

The final verdict of lawsuit is not yet out, but this is a welcoming news!

February 2021, H1B is approved in Premium Processing however H4 and H4 EAD is still in ‘case was received’ status and the current H4 and H4 EAD are expiring/expired. This is the status quo for many dependents living in the US. 

During Trump Administration back in February/March 2019 made changes to the extension of the nonimmigrant status change application process and added biometrics part of the approval process . This essentially delayed the overall processing of H4 and H4 EAD applications.

The delay added critical challenges to livelihood for H1B dependents in the US, especially for the people waiting in the Green card backlog.

  • Job Loss
  • Drivers License renewal
  • Travel outside US.
  • Insurance.
h4ead

During Obama administration in 2015, an H4EAD was introduced that allows H4 dependents can work in the US under certain conditions, but these delays are not really serving the purpose. Recently, DHS has withdrawn the regulation to rescind H-4 EAD brought during Trump Administration however, delays in H4EAD processing is an issue that is often ignored.

There are a couple of options people are trying and was successful in some cases.

  • After the H1B petition is approved, some people travel to their home country and get a visa stamped while H4 petition is pending. Also, withdraw the H4 petition after coming back US.
    • There is a caveat of finding Visa appointments as regular processing is limited because of Trump Immigration Ban.
  • To expedite the approval process, some people filed lawsuit against USCIS & were successful with an attorney fee.

The current processing time for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (I-539) in California Center is about 2 yrs/24 months and varies in Texas/ Vermont Processing Center.

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The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) is dedicated to improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public by providing individual case assistance, as well as making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The USCIS Ombudsman has asked USCIS to look into the significant processing times discrepancy for I-539s pending at the California Service Center. 

Removing Biometrics in H4 processing and H4 EAD Premium Processing implementation are the ways the new DHS Administration can give a full life to H4 EAD. 

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