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Halt ordered in biometric scans for US work-visa spouses

Halt ordered in biometric scans for US work-visa spouses

U.S. immigration officials this month will suspend requiring the collection of face and fingerprint biometrics from the spouses of some highly skilled work-visa holders.

The decision comes weeks after a class-action suit was filed to end delays in processing so-called derivative H, E and L visas, according to a JD Supra article.

That suit filed, in a Seattle federal court in March, charges that the ensuing delays in issuing spouse work visas are illegal. Federal law requires the Department of Homeland Security to process applications for spouse permits within 30 days.

The biometric screenings were first mandated in 2019, during the Trump administration, Reuters reported. At the same time, processing applications was made a low priority, resulting in lengthy authorization delays, reported earlier this year to be reaching two years in some cases.

Beyond the legality of the move, delays caused gaps in spouses’ eligibility to work or even resulted in them losing jobs.

An amicus brief filed in support of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs was joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among others in the business community.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials filed documents in the case stating that its biometrics suspension would run for two years beginning May 17. It applies to H-4, L-2 and E-1 through E-3 form I-539 visas.

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