A new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report to Congress says that USCIS is “running at a revenue loss” with a visa processing backlog due to the pandemic closures and cutbacks. On June 30, 2021, DHS said that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) revenue loss is contributing to continued backlogs and lengthening processing times. In the past 18 months, USCIS
• enacted spending cuts to avoid furloughing over 50% of USCIS employees last year
• closed offices for several months and reduced staffing due to the coronavirus pandemic
• put a hiring freeze in place to reduce costs
The report said that
“While the agency recently lifted its hiring freeze, it will take months, if not years, to re-achieve full staffing.”
Processing times for visa applications, renewals and other immigration benefits have months-long backlogs, and many foreign citizens are working in the U.S. without proper authorization while others are stranded while waiting for documentation.
USCIS is primarily self-funded by application fees:
• The Trump administration increased USCIS application fees, which were later struck down by the courts.
• House Democrats have proposed providing USCIS with $474.5 million to process the backlogs in the Homeland Security spending bill for fiscal 2022.
• In October USCIS was authorized to expand premium processing services and allow applicants to pay higher fees for faster processing. Expanded premium processing services are planned for later this year.
The report also recommends that USCIS move away from a self-funded budget model and eliminate some requirements that were temporarily dropped during the pandemic such as allowing remote interviews.
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 630-912-0322.