In a fantastic announcement made by the immigration litigator Jonathan Wasden, a class action suit in Seattle was settled and USCIS was asked to withdraw the biometrics requirements for H4, L2, and E2 spouses. This will be effective starting May 17, 2021.
Instated in 2019 by the Trump administration, eligible H4 and L2 visa holders were made to submit their biometrics as a criterion to be approved for a work permit or extension thereof. Charleston, South Carolina based, immigration attorney Jonathan Wasden of Wasden Banias Law Firm had been fighting this lawsuit amongst several other social media campaigns, advocating through protest marches and broaching senators for help.
What Did The Courts Say Regarding Suspending Biometrics?
Per the court directives, biometric requirements for H4, L2, E1, E2 & E3 visa holders will be suspended after May 17, 2021. This is applicable for the next 24 months and will be revisited in May 2023. At which point it could be either extended or terminated completely.
All current biometric appointments have to be honored and recipients are expected to fulfill their biometric appointment dates for finger printing.
This revocation of biometric requirement also applies to those filing for Form I-539, extension of stay or change of status to H4, L2 and certain E non-immigrant visas.
Important:USCIS still holds the right to ask for biometrics of anyone on a case-by-case basis. This would be administered for identity verification or other screening purposes.
H4 EAD: What To Expect Going Forward
While the complete policy is yet to published, H4 EAD holders have some reason to celebrate already. Many lost their jobs, due to processing delays in service centers of California, Vermont, Nebraska and Texas. While the processing timelines extended beyond 12 months, EAD extensions were not allowed before 180-days expiration as a result, many eligible workers lost work status.
- USCIS will announce the details of the new policy before May 17 2021.
- If you have a biometric appointment already scheduled, those will be honored. Please make it your appointment date and location.
- Automatic H4 EAD extensions are not yet approved.
- Premium processing for H4 EAD has not been announced yet.
- As done in the past, H1-B, H4 and EAD could be approved altogether when premium processing is permitted.
- Once the biometric requirement is removed, regular H4 EAD could be processed in a month. In the past, it was approved in under 90 days.
- With I-539 biometric removed, more slots will open up for I-485 applicants.
The next case on the docket is to “force the agency to work on its backlog according to a predictable timeline.” Fingers crossed, there is more good news coming your way. Stay tuned for the latest update here.