USCIS has announced that they will suspend biometrics requirements for all H-4 and L-2 nonimmigrants beginning on May 17, 2021. The suspension of biometrics is intended to help USCIS to aggressively address the backlog of Form I-539 and Form-I765 filings for H-4 and L-2 spouses.
USCIS estimates that the current number of Form I-539s for H-4 and L-2 spouses in the backlog is approximately 123,000 and estimates that the number of Form I-765s for H-4 and L-2 spouses in the backlog is approximately 57,500. The new policy suspending biometrics will apply to any pending cases that have not already been scheduled for biometrics appointments and to new cases filed after the effective date. In addition to suspending biometrics, USCIS has also confirmed that they are focusing resources on adjudicating these applications, including dedicating approximately 120 officers to these applications and scheduling training for another 33 dedicated officers in May 2021.
The Department of Homeland Security has also withdrawn a proposed rule that would have expanded biometrics collection by removing age restrictions and requiring submission of biometrics for every applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual filing for or associated with any immigration or naturalization benefit or request unless DHS waived or exempted the biometrics requirement. The withdrawal follows the Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, and additional administration priorities to reduce barriers and undue burdens in the immigration system.
DHS will continue to require submission of biometrics in cases where the collected information supports national security, identity management, fraud prevention and program integrity.