By Atty. Chris Caday Lozano
Good news for immigrant community! U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on August 25, 2020, Tuesday announced it would abandon plans to furlough more than 13,000 employees next week, temporarily averting a scenario that would have crippled the processing of applications for green cards, work permits, U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits.
In a message to employees obtained by CBS News, Deputy USCIS Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said the agency was able to avoid furloughing nearly 70% of its workforce because its financial situation has “improved somewhat” since the spring, when the coronavirus pandemic fueled an unprecedented drop in petitions. Unlike most other federal agencies, USCIS is largely funded through the application fees it charges.
Though applications have increased in recent weeks, Edlow said the agency is still projecting a budget shortfall heading into fiscal year 2021, which starts in October, and continues to require financial assistance from Congress.
“Although our situation has temporarily improved due to a modest increase in revenues, Congress must act on a long-term fix that will provide the necessary financial assistance to sustain the agency,” he told employees in an email.
Edlow warned of “cost-reducing” actions that could result in increased wait times and prolong the processing of certain cases, like citizenship applications, in the absence of congressional action. USCIS declined to make Edlow available for an interview, but in a statement sent to reporters, he said a future furlough remains a possibility.
“Our workforce is the backbone of every USCIS accomplishment. Their resilience and strength of character always serves the nation well, but in this year of uncertainty, they remain steadfast in their mission administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and protecting the American people, even as a furlough loomed before them,” Edlow said. “However, averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost that will increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs.”
USCIS, which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security, first informed Congress of its financial woes in the middle of May, requesting $1.2 billion in emergency funding and promising to repay the funds by imposing a 10% surcharge on applications.
USCIS has maintained that the sole reason for the agency’s financial troubles is the pandemic and its impact on applications. In the spring, the agency had to postpone in-person interviews, fingerprint and photo appointments, naturalization ceremonies and other services.
Though USCIS predicted in May a 61% decline in petition receipts through the end of September, applications and revenue increased in the summer.
The agency made over $800 million more in revenue and recoveries than originally anticipated in May, according to a letter last week from a bipartisan group of lawmakers in charge of committees with oversight over USCIS. Predicting that the agency will have $230 million to finance day-to-day operations going into fiscal year 2021 and that funding won’t run out until November, the lawmakers had urged USCIS leaders to delay the furloughs.
One USCIS employee who requested anonymity to speak freely said the furloughs would have been unnecessary. The threat of the furloughs, however, will continue to have an impact on workforce morale, the employee added.
“People are just completely exhausted by the back and forth of it,” the employee told CBS News. “By the constant uncertainty. By the fact that the letter also indicates this is really just another stay. Execution still may come. The feeling that this was a fake furlough threat held over us as a bargaining chip and that we’re merely pawns.”
Filing fees are scheduled to increase on October 2, 2020. It is that naturalization applications and adjustment of status should be filed before the big increase in filing fees.
Note: This is not a legal advice.
- For the month of July 2020, we received two approvals of Naturalization applications from USCIS.
- For the month of June 2020, we received approvals from USCIS two naturalization applications, two renewal of green card and one adjustment of status.
- For the month of May 2020, we received approvals from USCIS for three green card renewals, two adjustment of status, and one naturalization application.
- For the month of April 2020. we received approval of one adjustment of status, three removal of condition on residence and one renewal of green card.
- For the month of March 2020, we received six Adjustment of Status and three Naturalization approvals from USCIS.
- For the month of February 2020, we received approvals from USCIS of five Adjustment of Status application andthree Naturalization application.
- For the month of January 2020, we received approvals from USCIS of five Adjustment of status applications,three N-400 applications for naturalization and three fiancé visa application.
- For the month of December 2019, we received four approvals of naturalization applications, five approvals of Adjustment of Status applications, two approvals of Petition to remove condition on residence, one renewal of green card approval and one green card application at the U.S. Embassy.
- For the month of November 2019, we received approvals of one naturalization application, one renewal of green card, one Petition to remove condition on residence and one adjustment of status.
- For the month of October 2019, we received five naturalization application approvals and two renewal of green card and one DACA approval.
- For the month of September 2019, we received approval of two naturalization applications, one adjustment of status and one application to remove condition on residence.
- For the month of August, 2019, we received approval from Immigration Court for a waiver of misrepresentation for a client who has committed marriage fraud.We also received approval from USCIS of two naturalization applications and two fiancé visa petition.
If you have immigration problems the Law Offices of Crispin C. Lozano can help you find a solution before your problem gets worse which could lead to deportation and family separation.
Chris Caday Lozano, Esq. is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and San Francisco Trial Lawyers. He practices immigration law, bankruptcy and personal injury law since June 1999. His contact phone is 1-877-456-9266, email: info@CCLlaw.net Chris Caday Lozano is currently running as Councilmember for Hayward City Council for November 3, 2020 election.