The massive backlog of petitions filed with USCIS has been documented extensively and led to Congressional committee hearings and an investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Despite these facts, USCIS is now finding new, creative ways to delay adjudicating petitions.
In March 2019, USCIS announced a revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and published a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. With these revisions came a new biometrics requirement for applicants. Because it often takes three weeks to process biometrics, USCIS announced that it would no longer extend premium processing (i.e., processing in 15 days) to Form I-539s filed with Form I-129s, which are generally eligible for premium processing. Customarily, if the two forms were filed together and premium processing was selected, both would be adjudicated within the 15-day processing window as a courtesy. As a result of this new policy, though, Form I-539 applicants may be waiting for a decision considerably longer than I-129 applicants filing concurrently.