75% of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receive notice this week that they will be placed on 30 – 90 days furlough as early as mid-July. Officials blame the USCIS furlough of nearly 15,000 federal employees on a loss of fee income due to the COVID crisis. Fee-funded USCIS anticipates a $1.2 billion shortfall this year due to a 61% drop in application and petition requests, in part due to the pandemic, through the end of 2020.
Last November, USCIS proposed fee increases including a 10% surcharge on immigration applications and an 83% hike for naturalization for fiscal year2020, to avoid a $1.26 billion budget shortfall. USCIS does not derive its budget from congressional appropriations but covers operational costs from fees that applicants for green cards, citizenship, and other immigration services pay.
To prevent the furlough, USCIS has requested a $1.2 billion bailout from Congress, but lawmakers say they’re still waiting on a detailed budget breakdown from the White House.
Immigration advocates say the anti-immigration Trump administration increased staffing and red-tape in order to limit legal immigration long before the COVID crisis occurred. The result is an immigration backlog as wait times have significantly increased and denials skyrocketed.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also considering furloughing employees due to a COVID-related decrease in fee-generated revenue. User fees makeup approximately 405 of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations Budget and 1/3 of the CBP workforce at the ports of entry and deal with the flow of people and goods in and out of the country. Travel in and out of the United States has been restricted during the pandemic.
Immigration law can be confusing, and it changes frequently. It is important to have legal guidance from a knowledgeable attorney. The immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Chicago and Lombard can help you with your immigration case. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office or call us at 855-554-6369.