Key Points

  • House of Representatives passed an emergency stopgap bill to provide USCIS with $1.2 billion
  • USCIS is increasing fees for many application categories to compensate for a budget shortfall
  • USCIS cancelled its planned furlough for over 30,000 staff members on August 30, 2020 but still needs federal funding to operate in FY 2021

Overview

On August 22, 2020, the House passed a bill providing emergency funding for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to avoid a furlough on August 30th. USCIS cancelled its plan furlough on August 26, 2020, but it still needs federal funding for operations in FY 2021 and to avoid future furloughs. The agency has requested $1.2 billion from the government.

Background

USCIS first planned to furlough approximately 13,400 employees on August 3rd. The agency postponed its furlough through August 30th to provide time to secure emergency funding. Days before the furlough happened, the agency cancelled plans to lay off over 75 percent of its staff, which allows the agency to continue operating. However, USCIS cautions that its operations will be impacted by the spending cuts that were necessary to fund its activities through FY 2020.

How Will Foreign Nationals and Employers be Impacted?

If implemented unchanged, the bill will increase premium processing fees for select visa applications from $1,440 to $2,500. Additionally, it will extend premium processing services for other visa categories and applications as part of the emergency stopgap measure. USCIS will use premium processing revenues to improve its adjudication and naturalization services. The fees will also be used to reduce backlogs. USCIS states that the bill will protect premium processing applicants by suspending premium processing only when necessary. Non-premium applicants will benefit from faster adjudication times and shorter backlogs and delays for all forms.

Looking Ahead

The bill is currently awaiting approval from the Senate to secure emergency funding for USCIS.