USCIS has announced that, due to an “unprecedented” increase in revenues, the source of which is unclear, it would not go forward with the furloughs previously scheduled for August 30, 2020 – at least not until the end of the fiscal year (October 1, 2020).
The USCIS Deputy Director for Policy, Joseph Edlow, stated this will come at a cost. USCIS will be cutting support activities, and anticipates that this will lead to longer wait times for case inquiries and longer processing times for adjustment of status and naturalization cases (a problematic issue in an election year). Average wait times for calls to USCIS to fix errors made by the agency have increased under the Trump administration.
The agency did note, however, that naturalization ceremonies will continue.
Since June 2020, USCIS has been threatening to furlough 13,000 employees (two-thirds of its workforce) due to a purported but unexplained budgetary shortfall for this fee-based agency.
The previous deadline for receipt of $1.2 billion from Congress to stave off the furloughs was August 30, 2020. The House had approved some emergency funding (including raising the cost of premium processing to $2,500 per case), but the Senate has yet to act.
Congress had wanted to avoid this magnitude of operational cuts. USCIS has reiterated that a return to “normal” operations cannot occur without the requested financial assistance. Keep in mind that even before these financial issues were raised, USCIS already had unprecedented delays and backlogs.
As the new October 1, 2020, deadline approaches, Jackson Lewis attorneys will continue to provide updates as they become available.