On August 25, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that the agency would be able to avert the planned furlough of 13,400 employees or nearly 70% of its workforce. The furloughs were originally scheduled to begin on August 30.
While IIUSA is pleased to see that the agency will not furlough a large portion of their staff critical to the EB-5 industry and immigration at large, we are also concerned by the agency assertion that, “Averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs.”
Earlier this year, in advance of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship will host a hearing titled “Oversight of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services” IIUSA submitted a data report for the official record. The report provided a quantitative review of USCIS revenue collection from filing fees based on case filing and adjudication volumes in the first half of the fiscal year 2020 and compares those levels with previous years.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that the agency will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30 as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.
USCIS expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of fiscal year 2020. Aggressive spending reduction measures will impact all agency operations, including naturalizations, and will drastically impact agency contracts.
“Our workforce is the backbone of every USCIS accomplishment. Their resilience and strength of character always serves the nation well, but in this year of uncertainty, they remain steadfast in their mission administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and protecting the American people, even as a furlough loomed before them,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “However, averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs. A return to normal operating procedures requires congressional intervention to sustain the agency through fiscal year 2021.”
The additional cost savings come through the descoping of federal contracts that assist USCIS adjudicators in processing and preparing case files as well as a myriad of other support activities. Anticipated operational impacts include increased wait times for pending case inquiries with the USCIS Contact Center, longer case processing times, and increased adjudication time for aliens adjusting status or naturalizing. Naturalization ceremonies will continue. Previously, members of Congress requested that agency leadership avoid operational cuts of this magnitude. However, Congress must still act on a long-term solution that will provide USCIS with the necessary financial assistance to sustain the agency throughout FY 2021 and beyond.