Approximately 13,400 employees of the USCIS will be furloughed starting on August 3rd for 30-days, with potential to last for 3-months. Due to current funding limitations, USCIS is unable to sustain employee salaries and other costs, unless Congress responds with emergency funding. USCIS reports a “dramatic decrease in revenue” during the COVID-19 pandemic as most of its revenue is from work, visitor visas and citizenship applications, which have essential ceased for the last few months. In response, USCIS has requested emergency supplemental funding from Congress, which has not been provided as of yet. It is estimated that USCIS will need an estimated 1.2 billion dollars in emergency supplemental funding for the next two years. In addition, USCIS proposed a potential 10% surcharge to current application fees.
With USCIS seeing a decrease in revenue and about 60% less petitions and applications, USCIS has made a decision to decrease their staffing by almost 1/3 if they do not receive government funding. If no aid is provided to the USCIS and furloughs happen, it will be difficult, if not impossible to process any applications or petitions. This decision will result in a move that will effectively bring the U.S. immigration system to a halt, creating extensive delays and backlogs for all services.
Although critics are blaming USCIS for mismanagement and current administration immigration policies contributing to the budget short-falls, the damage will be felt by anyone requiring USCIS services. This includes delays in green card adjustment of status applications, asylum interviews and naturalization interviews and ceremonies.