The United States Congress delayed initial plans to furlough up to 75% of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees in July to allow more time to negotiate a federal bailout. USCIS plans to furlough over 13,000 employees due to a decrease in user fees the government claims were caused by COVID. USCIS asked Congress for $1.2 billion to cover the agency’s budget shortfall and expected to receive funds in the latest COVID federal relief package. When Congress was unable to negotiate a new coronavirus relief package, over 13,400 USCIS employee furlough notices were sent to inform employees that they would be furloughed on August 30.
USCIS falls under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and is funded by the money it receives from immigration application fees. When the President signed executive orders that limited immigration due to COVID, immigration applications and agency fees declined dramatically.
During August stimulus package negotiations in Congress, Democrats insisted that any USCIS bailout fees must prohibit the agency from using the funds for enforcement against immigrants and require the agency to offer remote naturalization ceremonies amid the pandemic. Over 66,000 citizenship ceremonies per month were put on hold. According to projections, by 2020 voter registration deadlines, there will be over 300,000 citizenships backlogged resulting in those immigrants being unable to vote in the 2020 elections.
Both USCIS employees and immigration advocates say COVID is not the only reason for the USCIS financial problems. The anti-immigration Trump administration has initiated programs that increase USCIS costs while limiting immigration, including:
• increased staffing and red-tape in order to limit legal immigration
• placed restrictions on visas due to the novel coronavirus pandemic,
• attempted to block immigrants who would qualify for public assistance
Immigration regulations and procedures change frequently and are complex and stressful. It is important to have legal guidance from a knowledgeable immigration attorney. The skilled immigration lawyers at Godoy Law Office can answer any questions about immigration and guide you through every step of the application process. Call us today at 855-554-6369.