Key Points

  • USCIS cancels furlough planned for August 30, 2020
  • USCIS will increase fees for certain applications and raise premium processing rates
  • Spending cuts will cause longer wait time and backlogs
  • USCIS continues to request emergency funding to prevent future furloughs

Overview

USCIS has cancelled a planned furlough of more than 13,000 employees scheduled for August 30th. The agency averted a large staff reduction through September 30, 2020, which is the end of FY 2020, due to spending cuts and an increase in revenue from applications.

Background

USCIS first announced plans to furlough up to 75 percent of its staff on August 3, 2020 due to a decrease in revenue for several reasons, including a decline in applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its initial plans to furlough staff were postponed through the end of August to give the agency time to request emergency federal funding.

What are the Impacts on Employers and Foreign Nationals?

Employers and foreign nationals may be affected by application fee increases. Along with spending cuts, USCIS is compensating for its budgetary shortfall by increasing fees for many application categories. It is also increasing premium processing fees for select visa categories. In some cases, premium processing fees may reach $2,500. Previously, the maximum cost for premium processing was $1,440. Along with increasing fees, USCIS is expanding premium processing opportunities to other visa categories and applications.

With the increase in revenue, USCIS expects to continue normal operations through the end of the fiscal year, including issuing green cards, visas, and offering citizenship to foreign nationals. However, the agency cautions that its spending cuts will affect all agency operations. Applicants can expect to encounter longer wait times and increased processing delays because of the agency’s spending cuts. Additionally, adjudicating times will increase for individuals who are seeking naturalization or adjusting their status.

Looking Ahead

USCIS notes that although it has avoided a furlough for FY 2020, additional federal funding will be necessary to avoid furloughs in FY 2021. On August 22, 2020, the House of Representatives passed an emergency bill that would provide USCIS with $1.2 billion in emergency funding. Congress has yet to pass the bill.