Near the beginning of July 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began issuing notices to 13,400 of its employees stating that they could be furloughed for a period between 30 and 90 days, starting as early as August 3, 2020. The issuance of these notices was anticipated as officials have publicly speculated the agency would exhaust its current funding by early August this year. Since March 2020, USCIS, which relies heavily on petition and application fees to fund its operations, has seen a 50 percent drop in filings as a result of Covid-19’s effect on the economy, the pause on visa issuance at consulates, and the imposition of new visa restrictions.
Although administration officials and members of Congress are discussing terms for a bill that would provide additional funding to USCIS, nothing has been finalized. No one knows if or when additional funding would be approved in order to stop these furloughs from starting.
While it is still unclear how these potential furloughs will impact case processing times or appointments at USCIS field offices, given the wide scope of responsibilities handled by the agency and the backlog of cases caused by USCIS’ temporarily closure of field office and ASC support centers, it is not out of question to expect an announcement regarding changes or delays to petition/application processing and interviews in the weeks to come.