The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced the suspension of the biometric requirements for H-4, L-2, and E nonimmigrant visa applicants for 24 months, starting May 17, 2021.
The requirement to submit biometric information to obtain these visas was causing prolonged processing delays for both these visas and the Employment Authorization Document related to these visa categories. This effort will reduce the processing time for these visa categories back to around 90 days.
What Is the Biometric Requirement for the H-4, L-2, and E Nonimmigrant Visas?
Your biometric information for immigration purposes includes the collection of fingerprints, photographs, and digital signatures. The USCIS has complete authority to request biometric information of a visa applicant. Biometric information is collected at the Application Support Centers (ASCs) across the US and its territories. Starting from March 11, 2019, the USCIS made the collection of biometric information mandatory to complete Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This form is filed by nonimmigrants wanting to extend or change their visa classification.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all ASCs were temporarily closed to the public on March 18, 2020. They were partially reopened on July 13, 2020. This resulted in a considerable backlog of pending biometric appointments.