In May 2020, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reported a massive funding shortage that threatens the agency’s operations. USCIS is primarily funded by application fees, which have dramatically fallen this year for a number of reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the implementation of unnecessary and inefficient policies like requiring in-person interviews for all employment-based cases and not giving deference to prior adjudications. USCIS has asked Congress for a $1.2 billion dollar bailout which it intends to repay by imposing a 10% surcharge on most immigration-related applications and petitions. Without the bailout, USCIS asserts that it will not have sufficient funds to maintain its operations through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2020) and that it will not have enough funds for the first quarter of FY2021. USCIS has begun issuing furlough notices to its employees and estimates that it will need to furlough approximately 13,400 employees (70% of the USCIS workforce) starting August 3, 2020 if Congress does not grant its funding request. If USCIS furloughs its employees, we anticipate even longer processing times, as well as more inconsistent and error ridden adjudications. We hope that the agency’s request for funding is granted along with safeguards to ensure that USCIS institutes policies and procedures to ensure quality adjudications in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
by Gail Berg