USCIS has reportedly emailed notice to thousands of USCIS employees that they may be furloughed beginning August 3, 2020. The agency says that they are facing a budget shortfall, and that if they don’t receive emergency funding of $1.2 billion from Congress, they will have to furlough up to 13,400 employees beginning in August. USCIS has also proposed adding a 10% surcharge to the existing filing fees to help make up the shortfall.
If USCIS furloughs employees, it is expected to last at least 30 days, but possibly longer.
Q: How long will the furlough last?
A: No one knows for sure. USCIS indicates that it could last 30-90 days, and it could last longer. However, also keep in mind that it’s not guaranteed to happen. If Congress provides the needed funding, it’s possible that USCIS would not need to furlough employees, or would furlough fewer employees.
Q: How much will this delay the processing of my case:
A: If there is a furlough, case processing times will slow down. The extent of the delay depends on which officers are furloughed, what other tasks they are assigned to cover for furloughed employees, and how long the furlough lasts, among other factors.
Q: Can I still file my case with USCIS, even if there is a furlough?
A: USCIS should still accept cases for filing, even if some employees are furloughed. As mentioned above, you can expect increased processing times, but you should still be able to file. In fact, filing the case will help provide needed funding to USCIS through the filing fees.
Q: Will my case be affected if I am filing outside the US?
A: Maybe. Right now, only USCIS has announced possible furloughs. Other immigration-related agencies such as Dept of Labor and Dept of State will still be operating as usual (except to the extent that they are affected by Covid, such as consulates closing/remaining closed). If you are filing a petition that USCIS adjudicates, such as an I-130 petition, or an I-140 petition and you are outside the US, your case would still be affected by the furlough. The furlough would not affect things like consular processing (applying for a nonimmigrant visa or immigrant visa at the US consulate outside of the US). Those processes are impacted by other factors such as being closed due to Covid, or the proclamation.
It may seem that the doors to the US are closed right now. I cannot blame anyone who may think that. However, it is not true. There are additional challenges that would-be newcomers to the US must face. But we are here to help you navigate these choppy waters, and to find a path to achieving your immigration goals. We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.