U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 25 that it will abandon plans to furlough roughly two-thirds of its workforce due to a budget shortfall. The decision temporarily averts a major slowdown of the U.S. immigration system.

What Happened?

USCIS announced that it will no longer move forward with a plan to furlough over 13,000 of its employees on August 30 due to budgetary concerns. The agency initially cited a drop in the number of applications and the resulting decrease in revenue from fees during the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the budget shortfall, and said that without $1.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress, a furlough would be required.

The agency was able to temporarily avoid the furlough due to a moderate increase in daily revenue and by taking significant measures to reduce operational spending and reevaluate federal contracts.

What does this mean?

Although the move prevents a more significant slowdown in the processing of applications for green cards, work permits, U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits, USCIS noted that the new spending cuts will still result in increased wait times for applicants and longer case processing times.

These measures will allow USCIS to operate until September 30, but the agency said that without emergency funding from Congress, a future furlough remains a possibility.

What happens next?

Several bills have been introduced in Congress to provide USCIS with financial relief, but negotiations remain stalled. The House of Representatives passed a bill that grants emergency funding for the agency this weekend, but it has yet to pass the Senate. 

How are Envoy Global and Global Immigration Associates (GIA) responding?

Envoy and GIA are closely monitoring the situation and will continue to do so, providing relevant updates when they are available.

Originally published 26 August, 2020

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