On August 25, 2020, USCIS announced that it will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, or nearly 70 percent of its workforce, that was scheduled to begin August 30, 2020, “as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.”
USCIS expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of FY2020, namely September 30, 2020. USCIS states, however, that “Aggressive spending reduction measures will impact all agency operations, including naturalizations, and will drastically impact agency contracts.” However, if the COVID-19 continues and no return to its normal operating procedures, no guarantee USCIS can avoid future furloughs.
On May 15, 2020, USCIS has requested a $1.2 billion bailout from Congress in order to fund its normal operations. Unlike other agencies in the United States, USCIS is a fee-for-service agency and 95% of its budget comes from the filings fees it charged for immigration-related applications and petitions.
Because of the pandemic of COVID-19, almost 60% decrease in such applications and petitions and thus caused more than half drop in its overall revenue. As a result, USCIS asked Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency funding to sustain operations in the middle of May. In the request, USCIS said “without congressional action before August 3, USCIS will need to furlough over 13,000 staff members.”
As of today, no congress action has been taken to USCIS’s bailout. And USCIS cancelled planned furloughs on recently.
Furloughs’ effect on USCIS processing times
Apparently, USCIS’s employee furloughs will significantly delay its case processing times. Actually, USCIS case backlogs have been an issue for a long time, backlogged cases have now ballooned to 5.7 million.
Although USCIS announced no employee furloughs until the end of FY2020 (September 30, 2020), and new filing fee rule which is scheduled to take effect from October 2, 2020 will bring approximately 20% increase in its revenue, it is very likely that a new furlough plan comes if no return to the normal operations of USCIS and the society in the United States.