U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has notified Congress of a projected budget shortfall that is threatening the Agency’s operations and the financial well-being of thousands of its employees. The Agency, which is primarily funded by application fees, has requested a $1.2 billion dollar bailout from Congress.
Without the requested funding, USCIS claims that it will not have sufficient monies to maintain its operations through the end of the fiscal year, nor to fund its operations during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2021. USCIS has begun issuing furlough notices to its employees and anticipates that it will need to administratively furlough approximately 13,400 employees beginning August 3rd if it does not receive the requested funding from Congress. USCIS plans to impose a 10% surcharge on most immigration-related applications and petitions to repay the funding to the federal government.
Employees may remain furloughed until October 1st, 2020. USCIS has stated that the shortfall is due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. However, industry experts agree that the deficit is in large part due to the Agency’s own fiscal mismanagement. This includes USCIS’ implementation of counterproductive policies in recent years, such as interviewing all applicants/beneficiaries, issuing a request for evidence (RFE) in nearly every case (and typically seeking information already in USCIS possession in these RFEs), and failing to reuse available biometric data already provided by applicants and beneficiaries. Previously, it was rare to receive an RFE, however, now it is expected in almost every case. Quite often the evidence requested is not necessary for petition processing under current federal regulations or USCIS already has such information. This significantly delays processing of petitions and requires additional USCIS manpower for each petition.
These budgetary shortfalls are further compounded by President Trump’s Executive Orders to stop or halt processing of many petitions, including permanent resident cards and many non-immigrant visas. By placing a hold on such petitions, processing fees and revenue collected by USCIS are greatly reduced. A massive furlough at USCIS will delay the processing of millions of applications, making the waiting times even longer than they are currently.« Back to news