The recent economic slowdown has left numerous businesses and government entities in peril. Among these is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The agency, responsible for the country’s entire immigration system, is facing an unprecedented budget crunch.
The agency feared that it would have to furlough nearly 70 percent of its workforce. This week, the agency rolled back its plans for a furlough—but its future remains in question.
Budgetary constraints, but no furlough
The USCIS differs from other federal agencies because the majority of its funding comes from the fees for green cards, visas and other petitions. However, with fewer people immigrating to the U.S. because of travel restrictions, its budget has decreased dramatically. Top officials feared that the agency would need to furlough 13,000 employees.
Fortunately, an influx of federal funding in combination with cost-cutting measures will prevent the furlough. The USCIS still predicts a budgetary deficit. The agency will likely seek additional Congressional funding in early 2021.
What does this mean for immigration?
Individuals and employers no doubt have numerous questions about the future of the USCIS and what to expect regarding their petitions for permanent residency. No one can provide definite answers. The only certainty is that petitioners can expect a much longer wait than usual. (With the red tape and bureaucracy inherent to the immigration process, that is saying something.)
It may take the USCIS several additional months to process a visa request, appeal or other matter. Sponsors and individual petitioners may work with their attorneys to make the process go as smoothly and quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the limbo of waiting for an immigration decision will likely stretch onward for a very long time.