USCIS has stated it will suspend the biometrics requirements for H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2 and E-3 applicants from May 17th, 2021 for a period of 2 years. The biometric requirement was introduced by the Trump administration and was particularly cumbersome for H-4 and L-2 applicants as it meant that their applications would no longer be adjudicated at the same time as the principal H-1B and L-1 petitions.
Due to the pandemic, many application support centers closed or operated under a reduced capacity meaning that thousands of individuals were not able to attend for biometrics. As a result, USCIS were not adjudicating their applications and this resulted in a massive increase in processing times. This led to much uncertainty and gaps in employment authorizations, causing individuals to lose their jobs.
USCIS has stated that the biometrics suspension will apply to applications that are pending on May 17, 2021, that have not received a biometrics appointment as well as new applications.
Foregoing the biometrics requirement should hopefully speed up processing times and place less of a burden on applicants. Going forward we would like to see USCIS adjudicating H-4 and L-2 applications along with the principal applicant, which was the practice pre-Trump.
For further information regarding the above please contact PLG Partner Chris Prescott at firstname.lastname@example.org.