I-539 Filing Tips For Dependent Family Members

NOTE: This information is provided as a courtesy and does not constitute legal advice. FSIS staff cannot complete/prepare the I-539 on your behalf. Form I-539 is a personal application and FSIS cannot provide you with more specific guidance or advice on how to complete it. USCIS provides comprehensive instructions on how to complete this form at www.uscis.gov/i-539.  If, after reviewing the information below, you have further questions about what how to respond to a particular question on the Form I-539, please consult an immigration attorney.


If FSIS is filing an employment-based immigration petition (e.g. an H-1B petition) for an employee, Form I-539 is used by the dependents (spouse and children under age 21) who are applying for a change or extension of their immigration status (e.g. H-4). Note that Form I-539 is not used for the primary status holder, i.e. the employee in H-1B, TN, E-3 etc status. Form I-539 and the supplemental Form I-539A are completed from the perspective of the dependent family members only. Therefore, the "applicant" is usually the spouse or the oldest dependent child. Additional dependent family members are "co-applicants," for whom the I-539 A supplement is completed. (Note that Form I-539 may also be used by individuals applying for a change of status to, for example, F-1 or J-1 status.  In that scenario, the primary status holder's information would be included on Form I-539 and the information on any dependent family members would be included in the I-539A supplement.)   For more information on completing Form I-765 to request an EAD, please refer to our "Applying for an EAD while in H-4 Status" page.

Following are some suggestions for dependent(s) completing Form I-539 applications.

  • Form I-539 can be filed (and paid) online: https://www.uscis.gov/i539online 
  • Be sure to use the correct edition of the form. See "Edition Date" under "Form Details" at www.uscis.gov/i-539 for the latest information.
  • In those boxes on the application that do not apply to you, write “none” or “N/A” (not applicable), as appropriate.

PART 1: Information About You (the dependent family member, the applicant).

  • U.S. Mailing Address is where the applicant receives mail.
    • This is the address where USCIS will send the receipt notice and approval notice as well as any other relevant communication about the I-539 application.
    • If you anticipate you will be moving after filing the I-539, please consult with an FSIS adviser.
  • U.S. Physical Address is the applicant's U.S. residential address.
  • Other Information About You: 
    • #12: use the number of the passport you used to enter the US, even if it has expired.  You can enter your new passport number in Part 4, 1.a.
    • #13: only required if no answer to #12.
    • #14.a: country that issued the document, not the country in which it was obtained, i.e. generally the applicant's country of citizenship
    • #15.a: applicant's current non-immigrant status.
    • #15.b/16: if applicant holds F or J status, their I-94 should be marked “D/S” or duration of status.

PART 2: Application Type

  • Select #2 if applicant's status does not change.
  • Select #3.a if applicant is requesting a change to a different status.
  • In box #3.b indicate the requested effective/start date of the new status, if requesting a change of status.
  • In box 3.c indicate the requested status, e.g. H-4, TD or E-3S..
  • If applicant is the only dependent family member that is included in the I-539, select #4.
  • If the I-539 is used for multiple dependent family members, select #5.a and indicate the total number in #5.b  (Do not include the primary status holder in the number in #5.b)
    • NOTE: Each additional dependent, or co-applicant, must complete a supplement, called Form I-539A, separately.

PART 3: Processing Information

  • The latest  possible extension end date is the end date that is requested (or was already granted) to the primary status holder. FSIS can confirm the requested end date for the primary status holder.
  • Select #2.a "Yes," if the I-539 is filed after the primary status holder’s status petition was already approved.  (Applicant will need to submit own I-539 directly with USCIS.)
  • Select #3.a “Yes, filed with this Form I-539" if we are including this application as a courtesy with the employee's H-1B/TN/ E-3 petition. (Provide original I-539 to FSIS.)
  • Select #3.a “Yes, filed previously and pending with […] USCIS” if the primary status holder’s application has already been filed with USCIS but has not yet been approved. (Applicant will need to submit own I-539 directly with USCIS.)
  • Only complete #4/5 if the I-539 will not be filed together with the primary status holder petition and that petition remains pending with USCIS.

PART 4: Additional Information About the Applicant

  • #1: only required if different from the passport information in Part 1.
  • #3-12: please be sure to respond to all questions.
  • #13: if  “yes,” please provide an explanation in Part 9.
  • #14: whether applicant selects “yes” or “no,” be sure to provide an explanation in Part 9.
    • If applicant answered "no" to #14, provide the following information in Part 9:
      • "Fully supported by [spouse/parent]"
      • Name of [spouse/parent]
      • Position Title
      • [name of unit], University of Michigan
      • Current annual salary: [...]
    • If applicant answered “yes” to #14, provide the requested information and include documentation of your employment authorization (e.g. EAD).
  • #15: if “yes,” please provide an explanation in Part 9.

PART 5: Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification and Signature

  • A parent or legal guardian may sign the Form I-539 or Form I-539A for any child under the age of 14. 
  • A copied version of Form I-539 and I-539A, including a copied signature page, may be submitted to USCIS. If a copied signature page is submitted, you must retain the original version with the original, wet ink signature. Digitally signed forms are not accepted.

Support Documents and Filing Fee

Attach a copy of each of the following items. Be sure to also keep a complete copy of the application and supporting documents for your records.

  • Passport biographical information page for each dependent
  • Current US visa sticker in passport, if any
  • Form I-94 or paper I-94 for each dependent
  • Proof of relationship, generally marriage certificate for spouse and birth certificate for child
    • English translation, if applicable
  • Current status documents, e.g. I-20/DS-2019/I-797 approval notice, if any
  • EAD, if applicable
  • IAP-66 or DS-2019 form if you previously held J status, if applicable
  • Waiver of two-year home residency requirement, if applicable

Also attach a single check for the I-539 filing and biometric fee(s). The check should be made out to the “US Department of Homeland Security.” You may also pay by credit card. To do so, you will need to provide a Form G-1450. To calculate the required filing fee, please see the "filing fee" section at www.uscis.gov/i-539 or use the USCIS fee calculator.


  • Depending on your travel plans, it may not be necessary to file Form I-539. As a result of a Settlement Agreement (Edakunni vs. Mayorkas), USCIS will adjudicate Form I-539 together with the underlying H-1B petition IF they are filed together.
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: Each dependent will receive a biometric services (fingerprints, photos) appointment notice from USCIS containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address.
  • Effective 5/17/21, USCIS temporarily suspended  the biometrics requirement for Form I-539 applications for the H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2 and E-3 categories that are 1.) pending on that date and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice and 2.) new applications received by USCIS after the effective date but before 5/17/2023. Payment of the $85 biometrics fee should not be included for affected applications. On 4/19/2023, USCIS announced an extension of this exemption until 9/30/2023 in anticipation of a permanent exemption. On 9/25/23, USCIS announced that it would make this exemption permanent and would apply it to more applicant categories.