With a breakdown in talks on the latest COVID-19 stimulus package and with most senators and representatives out of town (though the House has been recalled from vacation to address the U.S. Postal Service crisis), USCIS has not received the $1.2 billion that it wants and says it needs to avoid furloughing two-thirds of its workforce. Unless talks pick up again, USCIS plans to furlough 13,400 of its 20,000 workers as of August 30, 2020.
The agency, which is already plagued by long processing delays and ever-increasing backlogs, would be severely hampered, if not effectively shut down, by the furlough.
In the background, Congressional staffers have indicated that, at this point, there is “no Plan B,” but that a break may come in terms of appropriations when Congress gathers again in September.
In the meantime, the hope is that USCIS will again push the furlough down the road. This should be possible since it was discovered that, in July, USCIS actually had a surplus of approximately $121 million and that it needs the bailout for FY 2021, which does not begin until October 1, 2020.
Not only would the furlough devastate USCIS and possibly irreparably harm foreign nationals and the businesses that rely on its services, but it would also harm local economies and create even more unemployment during the COVID-19 national crisis.
Jackson Lewis attorneys will continue to follow the progress of any negotiations and provide updates as they become available.