If Congress does not pass emergency funding, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is expected to furlough more than two-thirds of its employees beginning August 3, 2020, for at least a month and up to three months or more. The furlough of approximately 13,400 USCIS employees is likely to have an enormous negative impact on the U.S. immigration system, effectively halting most adjudications.
There are several unknowns:
- The furlough may not take effect. Congress may yet act to provide USCIS with bridge funding. Reportedly, members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Appropriations Committees are working with USCIS on its funding request. USCIS funding may be provided as part of a “Phase 4” COVID-19 pandemic relief bill or as a separate appropriation.
- The furlough may affect some types of applications more than others. Because in-person adjudications, like adjustment of status (I-485) and naturalization, require more staff than paper adjudications like H-1B petitions, the furloughs may hit local offices harder than the regional processing centers where most employment-based adjudications are done.
- The furlough should not affect the ability to file applications, meaning employees can obtain benefits from timely filed extensions, but furloughs will likely affect processing times, which means that applications will take much longer to be decided.
- The furlough may affect the Premium Processing service, although USCIS may decide to retain the service due to the extra revenue it brings.
We recommend filing any extensions of status needed in August, September, and October by August 1, 2020. Contact your Miller Mayer immigration attorney for advice in specific situations.