USCIS Takes Steps to Reduce Certain Visa Processing Backlogs

Effective May 17, 2021, USCIS will suspend the taking of biometrics for those applying to extend or change to H-4 or L-2 visas as spouses of H-1B specialized knowledge and L-1 multinational company employees, as well as for those applying for extensions of, or change to the E-1, 2, or 3 visa categories.

These categories of applicants historically have not had to appear in person to have their fingerprints and other biometrics taken.  The biometrics requirement was initiated by the Trump administration in early 2019.  Since then, processing backlogs in these categories have been punishing, resulting in lawsuits against the Trump administration that are still ongoing, filed on behalf of H-4 and L-2 visa holders whose employment authorization was dependent upon approval of the underlying visa change or extension request.   Thousands of H-4 and L-2 spouses nationwide have  lost their jobs, and their ability to access or maintain ancillary benefits such as driver’s licenses, as a result of  the processing delays.

The temporary suspension of biometrics will apply to applications pending as of May 17, 2021 where a biometrics appointment has yet to be made, and to new applications filed on or after that date, and will remain in effect through May 17, 2023.