USCIS recently announced plans to update Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This change is particularly important to any foreign national currently here on a temporary basis who is intending on changing or extending his/her status. Apparently, the form has already been revised but will not be released until the same day the changes become effective, which is March 11, 2019. As of that date, any applications to change/extend non-immigrant status must be filed on the latest version. USCIS will not accept previous editions of Form I-539 and accordingly reject applications with the older version or applications that are missing required signatures or filing fees.
With the new form comes some important changes. For one thing, there will be a supplemental form I-539A which replaces Supplement A to the old form. Every co-applicant under the primary must therefore file a separate I-539A as well as pay their own $85 biometrics fee (with limited exceptions).
As mentioned earlier, USCIS will reject any application on or after March 11 that is not filed with the revised form. Considering that there has been very little notice and lack of “grace period” for the older form to phase out, it is critically important for applicants to file their applications correctly as well as timely. There can be dire consequences if an application is rejected or denied, especially if an applicant’s authorized period of stay is coming to an end. For example, if an individual wishes to extend his or her stay as a visitor and files the wrong form a few days before the stay expires, he or she may not receive notice of the rejection until after his/her authorized stay expires. Under the new NTA policy which is already in effect, USCIS will advise the denied applicant that if he/she does not depart the United States within thirty days, USCIS may issue a Notice to Appear for that individual to appear in Immigration Court-which at this rate, may take another three years. In the meantime, the person will begin accruing unlawful presence, which-if over 180 days-may prevent him/her from re-entering the United States after a departure.
These types of applications need to be filed in number of different contexts. I-539s are filed not only in connection with status extensions but also status changes, such as, for example, when somebody in F or H status wishes to convert to B status. If you are not sure which forms to file, the prudent thing to do is to assess and consult with a qualified immigration attorney.
The above is general information only and not intended to serve as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship, nor should it be relied upon in lieu of consultation with an immigration attorney.