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USCIS Cancels Furlough of 13,000 Employees

On 25 August, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the cancelation of its scheduled furlough of over 13,000 employees.

On 25 August, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the cancelation of its scheduled furlough of over 13,000 employees. The furloughs were first announced in late June and were scheduled for 3 August, and was then delayed until 30 August after pushback from members of Congress. The USCIS’ announcement explains that the furlough cancelation is “a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.”

The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the USCIS, as a decrease in travel as well as President Trump’s immigration proclamation drastically decreased its services. The USCIS originally projected a budget deficit of over $1 billion, which was used as rationale for the furlough of 13,400 of its 20,000 employees. Along with the furloughs, USCIS notified Congress of its plans to request emergency funding of $1.2 billion and its intention to repay the emergency funding by placing a 10% surcharge on all visa applications.

This was followed by action in Congress led by Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Jon Tester of Montana, who then called on Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow to delay the furloughs after finding new revenue estimates.

According to its announcement, USCIS now “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.” Despite the furlough cancelation, the cost savings will likely impact operations including “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.” The USCIS also called upon Congress to act on a long-term solution that will provide financial assistance through fiscal year 2021.

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How This Impacts Mobility

The USCIS’ role in processing visa applications and petitions is a crucial component to global workforce mobility for immigration in the United States. Along with President Trump’s recent immigration proclamation, the intended furloughs would have been another impediment to gaining access to talent needed for businesses economic recovery. Worldwide ERC® will continue to provide updates as this matter develops. Should any member have questions regarding USCIS, please reach out to our Vice President, Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters at rpeters@worldwideerc.org.

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