If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably heard that USCIS is planning to furlough a majority of its employees because it needs more money. USCIS Deputy Director Joseph Edlow has stated that USCIS, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will have to furlough most of its employees by the end of August unless Congress approves additional funding for the agency.
What Will it Mean If USCIS Furlough Employees?
If USCIS furloughs the majority of its employees, this would mean extremely slow processing times for cases and very long delays in decisions on applications and the issuance of green cards and work permits.
For US Citizens seeking to petition for family members, this means long wait times and more uncertainty. For businesses seeking to bring workers to the United States or keep workers here legally, it means more chaos and uncertainty in an already difficult system.
USCIS announced on July 31st that it would increase filing fees beginning October 2, 2020. So for anyone contemplating filing an application, filing fees are slated to increase for the first time in 4 years.
Does USCIS Really Have Money Problems?
USCIS has claimed that it requires funds to continue operating without the announced furloughs. However, some have questioned whether this is true because USCIS operates with funding from benefit application fees (which are paid by people applying for legal status or their petitioning family members or employers).
There is data indicating that the number of applications USCIS was receiving prior to the Covid-19 outbreak was higher than previous years, and that over the summer as USCIS offices have reopened, its application numbers have increased almost back to their pre-Covid levels.
Some believe that the furlough is just another Trump administration attempt to stop legal immigration from occurring, just as the travel bans announced in April and June of this year have stopped legal immigration of some family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents and some employees of US companies.
Slowing down USCIS’s ability to approve people for work permits, green cards, and other immigration benefits is one way to discourage people from applying and to stop people from obtaining their benefits.
Should I File an Application if USCIS Is Going to Furloughs Employees?
The short answer? Yes.
We don’t know for certain that the furlough will occur. Congress is still working on a Coronavirus relief aid package, and funding for USCIS may be included in this package. As recently as this week, the White House and Congress have gone back and forth about acceptable terms for the relief package. So the furlough isn’t a done deal just yet.
With that in mind, if you qualify for an immigration benefit, we recommend you talk to an experienced immigration lawyer to be sure there are no other reasons you should wait or take immediate action, as there are usually other issues that may affect your decision.
We can’t predict what might happen between now and the end of the month, but we can say that in the last 3-4 years, we have seen lots of sudden policy changes, announcements of procedural or policy changes that are quickly reversed, and lots of legal challenges to these changes.
It’s been a head-spinning time for anyone involved in the U.S. immigration system, and it’s been particularly stressful and worrisome for people hoping to apply for legal status in the U.S.
Can an Immigration Lawyer in Houston Help?
Because these last few years have been unpredictable, we have been working with our clients to help them make the best possible decision in light of the current circumstances. We can’t take away the stress of going through the immigration process, but we can help our clients understand the process and make informed decision.
We keep our fingers on the pulse of the U.S. immigration system during this unpredictable period, and we are there to represent our clients when USCIS makes requests for additional evidence, sends out a Notice of Intent to Deny, or calls our clients in for an interview.
If you’re wondering whether you should file an immigration application even if USCIS furloughs a majority of its employees, contact our office in Houston to set up a consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys. Click this orange button below to contact us via email: