This is great but note that under the Trump administration case processing has been far more unpredictable with a massive rise in additional requests by the USCIS and increased denial rates. The reality is that although COVID-19 has impacted everyone, it is also the case that the USCIS must have been in financial-straits well before COVID-19 not to be able to bridge this gap. Boundless is not a law firm and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If Congress does approve it, but not for the full amount, then furloughs will probably still go into effect, but likely for a shorter period. The USCIS, on June 25, provided a statement regarding the financial turmoil it is experiencing. In short, it is a lack of financial planning and austerity. USCIS regulations require employers to pay H-1B workers in periods of mandatory company-wide furloughs. U.S. Thus, if the furlough goes into effect, it will interrupt nearly all permanent and temporary immigration processing. , so you can be alerted as soon as more official details come to light. Last week, the U.S. The number of applications and requests it can process each year will likely drop substantially. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is:. Furloughs at USCIS would not directly impact processes at NVC or the embassy/consulate. If an employer furloughs a worker in a visa category that does not have a prevailing wage requirement, additional action may still be needed. For example, employers must notify the universities of F-1 workers who have STEM OPT work authorization if their training plans change significantly. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent out notices to more than two-thirds of its employees that they may be furloughed, effective August 3, 2020. If USCIS is furloughing 13,000 employees, it is hard to see how these cases will be processed and approved within a reasonable amount of time. USCIS to Furlough Staff Posted by Frank Gogol. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency would avert its plans to furlough about 13,400 employees come Aug. 30 and that it would continue operating through the end of fiscal year 2020. Boundless is constantly monitoring changes to the U.S. immigration system to help keep you informed. Stay up to date by following Boundless on Twitter or Facebook, so you can be alerted as soon as more official details come to light. So what are the practical implications of the expected USCIS furlough of two-thirds of its entire workforce, over 13,000 employees? USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said in a statement that aggressive spending cuts will “increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs,” adding that congressional funding will be necessary to keep the agency afloat in 2021. Applicants typically only require one service at a time. Congrats! “Well right now I’m supposedly one step away from becoming a U.S. citizen,” said Martha, an immigrant […] The furlough may affect the Premium Processing service, which USCIS recently reinstated in phases beginning June 1, 2020. For those new to working with ImmiPartner please contact us here. We will have to see but what is clear is that companies need to work with immigration counsel to address these issues and possible ramifications from immigration policy and workforce planning standpoint. Late in July, USCIS agreed to postpone the […] In addition to adjudicating green cards and naturalizations, USCIS also handles temporary work visas and some humanitarian benefits, such as asylum. This was never required and was handled only where deemed truly necessary. Adjudication standards at USCIS, since the Trump administration entered the White House, has very clearly become much more difficult. While this is welcome news, USCIS has also announced that it will be making "drastic cuts" that will impact agency operations until Congress is able to provide a long-term fix to its budget crisis. Experts who analyzed the reduced cost found they could cause a similar impact as the furlough — it would slow the agency down. This of course causes tremendous anxiety for all parties and it takes away all predictability in the process that is offered to employers via Premium Processing. USCIS declined to make Edlow available for an interview, but in a statement sent to reporters, he said a future furlough remains a possibility. Because your friend referred you, your application with Boundless is discounted. Nevertheless, the USCIS is still asking for a bailout and it appears they still plan to furlough 13,000 workers come August 3. Possible Mass-Furloughs at USCIS Could Severely Impact Services. But it’s likely they will slow down the processing of applications and “will for sure cause noticeable delays immediately,” a USCIS employee told Reuters. However, USCIS may decide to retain the service due to the extra revenue it brings. In the past few months, USCIS has taken action to avert a fiscal crisis, including limiting spending to salary and mission-critical activities. The furlough notices, which USCIS sent out earlier this month, said the unpaid time off would last for at least 30 days. It is true that a small group of H-4 holders can obtain work authorization but again the numbers we are looking at here are minuscule compared to the joblessness in the U.S. Drastic cuts will impact agency operations for foreseeable future WASHINGTON —U.S. It is important to note that the USCIS does not get more in fees when a case is challenged and the timeline is drawn out. If Congress doesn’t approve the bailout, the furlough could last for three months or longer, according to one report. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to furlough 13,400 of its nearly 20,000 employees unless Congress approves a $1.2 billion bailout by Aug. 3, a move that could cause further delays in green card and U.S. citizenship application processing. Will the agency be led to double-down on this effort or will there be a required relaxation to try and somehow keep adjudications moving before making the entire system completely unworkable? Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice and should not substitute for obtaining legal advice. This could place companies and employees in a difficult position if cases are not filed as soon as possible. USCIS derives almost all of its revenue from immigration fees, but the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis has led to a 50 percent drop in revenue since USCIS closed its offices in March, an agency spokesperson said in a statement. In one of the Trump administration’s latest moves, arguably outside of its executive powers, it released a June 22, 2020, Immigration Executive Order impacting the entry of H, L, and J visa holders. USCIS Furloughs Could Impact Eligible Naturalized Citizens' Ability to Vote By Jesse Canales Nationwide PUBLISHED 5:21 PM ET Jul. If such furloughs are implemented, they will have a devastating impact on the agency’s ability to provide immigration and naturalization services to American businesses and families for many months, if not years, to come. It is also important to note that only the H1B allows for this portability. What other visa categories may be affected by a furlough? USCIS is part of DHS. Off late, we saw that H1B transfers, extensions, and amendments were getting approved in a record 15 days even when filed in … Faced with a coronavirus-driven budget crunch and potential furloughs next month, U.S. USCIS furlough to further impact US immigration process Meanwhile, the USCIS said it was extending to 60 calendar days the time required for petitioners to respond to requests for evidence and other notices, once the request or notice has been received, if the issuance date is between March 1 and September 11, 2020. U.S. He is one of the 13,400 USCIS employees who has received a furlough notice, scheduled to go into effect August 3, 2020, for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 90. USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow said in a statement that aggressive spending cuts will “increase backlogs and wait times across the board, with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs,” adding that congressional funding will be necessary to keep the agency afloat in 2021. Looking at situations where companies wish to sponsor an employee and onboard them from another employer, it is important to note that the H1B visa provides some relief by allowing for portability. Whether the Trump administration is actually delighting in the idea of USCIS being gutted or whether they truly wish to do whatever is in their power to keep the lights on this furlough, even if just for the initial 30 days as suggested, this will have an impact on U.S. business and international visa holder employees. But immigration policy experts say the agency’s financial woes began long before the pandemic. Without Premium Processing, cases already take months. The ostensible reason for the furlough was a budget shortfall, even though USCIS is a fee-based service that historically has covered costs. That said, it is conceivable that even 240 days might not be sufficient to get cases adjudicated. Use of the Boundless website and its services are subject to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. USCIS Ombudsman’s Office to Be Adversely Impacted by Potential USCIS Furloughs – … "All USCIS operations, including naturalization ceremonies, will be impacted by a furlough," spokesperson Joe Sowers said in a statement. COVID-19 is still a thing, causing lots of delays and cancellations, even though it seems that the number of cases has decreased in different places around the world. Fewer staff members will further slow down the immigration and reduce what fees the USCIS can collect. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees could delay naturalizations for new citizens and prevent them from voting in the November election. There are numerous statistics proving this out from dramatic increases in requests for evidence from the USCIS, to a large increase in denial rates, all occurring without any official regulatory changes in adjudication standards or eligibility requirements. IMPORTANT UPDATE —August 25, 2020: U.S. Attorney services are provided by independent attorneys and are subject to a separate Attorney Agreement. It is hard to imagine that the USCIS will be able to stick anywhere near its current processing times for typical H1B or other status extensions, change of employer, or change of status applications. It’s still a danger, and it seems it is also affecting USCIS because only recently, they declared they are planning to furlough some of its employees. Lastly, when considering a change of status application, for example, an F1 student who is completing OPT or STEM OPT could file for a change of status to another visa types, whether an O1 visa or other option, there is no portability allowed and these change of status applications would likely be very slow in processing. Stay up to date by following Boundless on. USCIS Furlough Impact #1: H1B Processing as well as Other Change of Status, Change of Employer, and Extension of Status Applications Will Slow. It is also worth noting that Premium Processing costs additional money in terms of filing fees, something which the USCIS could certainly have used in the several months each year that they have stopped accepting Premium Processing applications. It is worth noting that the Trump Administration has done as much as it can within its power, and arguably even beyond its power, to restrict immigration and thereby immigration filings and revenue for the USCIS. Blank immigration forms with written instructions, including for spousal visas, are available for free at the USCIS website. Boundless is not affiliated with or endorsed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or any other government agency. It is hard to imagine that the USCIS will be able to stick anywhere near its current processing times for typical H1B or other status extensions, change of employer, or change of status applications. We continue to work with Congress to provide the necessary funding to avert this unfortunate consequence.” USCIS is under increasing pressure from Republicans and Democrats to delay the furlough. The USCIS’ announcement explains that the furlough cancelation is “a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts.” The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll on the USCIS, as a decrease in travel as well as President Trump’s immigration proclamation drastically decreased its services. In a time where the business community is already struggling to find solid ground under COVID-19, Trump’s Immigration Executive Orders, and the current economic climate, this is just another burden to carry with real-world implications. "At this time, we do not have the number of … To better understand the impact of a USCIS staff furlough, I interviewed Doug Rand, who worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House as assistant director for entrepreneurship and is the co-founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship. Luckily there is some relief where timely extension applications are filed as most non-immigrant visa types, including the H1B, L1, O1, TN, and others, are granted an automatic 240-day employment authorization extension as a result of a timely filing. NVC and the embassies + consulates are part of DOS. The USCIS provides in part that: The majority of USCIS operations rely on fees paid by applicants and petitioners, not appropriated or taxpayer funds. On top of impact 1 discussed above, it is very unlikely that the USCIS will be able to continue offering Premium Processing, which allows for expedited case processing within 15 days. The implications are primarily total unpredictability in terms of when U.S. companies can obtain immigration approvals for prospective hires or for existing international employees in H1B, L1, and other immigration statuses. The Background. Green Card [Redirects to /green-card/marriage/], Green card applicants with criminal records, Green Card Sponsors with Criminal Records. The USCIS told ET in an emailed response that without US Congressional intervention, it will “need to administratively furlough a portion of our employees on approximately July 20. They have different policies, budgets + funding sources, staff, etc. This means that an employer can file an H1B change of employer application for someone already in H1B status and upon receipt by the USCIS that H1B employee could begin employment. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told contractors Wednesday that the agency is “reviewing its entire contract portfolio and future requirements to prioritize those that provide the most critical mission essential services.” “The agency has made several questionable policy decisions over the past three and a half years, including failing to implement a timely and moderate fee increase, as well as initiating a surge of red tape and staff hiring that likely led USCIS from surplus to insolvency,” wrote Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless, and Lindsay Milliken in an analysis published in the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy. This has been done under the guise of COVID-19 but it is worth noting that the unemployment rate in technology jobs, which make up about two-thirds of all H1B roles, is around 4%. While the agency doesn’t provide location-specific information, the furloughs figure to have an impact in Kansas City where more than 3,000 people work for USCIS directly or through a contractor. 01, 2020 PUBLISHED 5:21 PM EDT Jul. The USCIS has announced its intention to furlough 13,400 staff members at the end of August. 01, 2020 This would potentially leave the applicant without work authorization and a U.S. company without a critical employee. The furlough was expected to cause USCIS to all but stop processing immigration benefits, creating a crisis for the U.S. immigration system. This will certainly increase the total processing time for various types of applications. The Migration Policy Institute recently issued a report on how the anticipated USCIS furlough of more the 70% of its workers, scheduled to commence August 30, 2020, will impact current immigration processing. HQ: 90 New Montgomery St. Suite 750, San Francisco 94105, US Immigration Solutions for Entrepreneurs, Professionals, and High-Growth Companies, Corporate Immigration, Individuals, News, L1 Visa, Webinars, H1B Visa, Corporate Immigration, Individuals, News, L1 Visa, H1B Visa. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that the agency will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30 as a result of unprecedented spending cuts and a steady increase in daily incoming revenue and receipts. 2101 4th Ave, Suite 850 Seattle, WA 98121. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told Congress in May that it was running out of money and would need a $1.2 billion bailout to maintain its operations without major disruptions. Impact of the Possible Furloughs. This bill is an important emergency stopgap measure to protect the over 1,100 Vermonters and the more than 13,000 USCIS employees nationwide who currently face the risk of furlough. Also, will the USCIS turn to greatly increasing filing fees? Boundless is constantly monitoring changes to the U.S. immigration system to help keep you informed. It is still unclear whether or not Congress will approve the bailout. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas signed a bipartisan letter to USCIS on Friday saying the agency has enough money to continue current operations through the end of … Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. (See Impending USCIS Furloughs Will Contribute to Historic Drop in US Immigration Levels). A decision is expected around the end of July, possibly as part of the next coronavirus relief package. Senators are asking DHS and USCIS to take immediate action to save USCIS employees from such furloughs. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to furlough 13,400 of its nearly 20,000 employees unless Congress approves a $1.2 billion bailout by Aug. 3, a move that could cause further delays in green card and U.S. citizenship application processing. Another example of a massive waste of resources by USCIS has come as a result of requiring immigration interviews for employment-based green card applications on every filing. Also, how does limiting the entry of dependent H4, L2, and J spouses and children help the availability of jobs to U.S. Citizens and others in the workforce who do not need immigration-related work authorization? USCIS confirmed that its planned furlough of 70% of its workforce (13,400 employees) will be postponed at least until the end of August. So what will be interesting to see, and possibly alarming, is how a greatly reduced workforce will approach adjudication of the cases they can actually get to. USCIS is planning to furlough its 13,000 employees due to lack of funding. All of the added focus and burden on USCIS to make immigration processing as painful and difficult as possible has led to an incredible amount of wasted time on every case filing. Furloughs will likely impact processing times, resulting in an applications and petitions taking much longer to be adjudicated. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has seen a 50% drop in receipts and incoming fees starting in March and estimates that application and petition receipts will stay well below plan through the end of Fiscal Year 2020. Therefore, it is often the case that H1B employees prefer to wait until an H1B change of employer application is approved before starting with the new petitioning company. Unless otherwise prohibited by state law or the employer’s specific policy, employers may require furloughed H-1B workers to use their accrued paid time off. In compliance with an order of a United States District Court, effective December 7, 2020, U.S. This story originally appeared in El Paso Matters. But under the Trump administration, an incredible amount of time and resources have been wasted here. Note that laws and interpretation of immigration laws change over time. Feel free to reach out to speak with experienced corporate immigration counsel to understand how you can prepare for what might come to bear. So if a candidate holds an O1 visa, a TN visa, an E3 visa, or any other work-authorized status the individual cannot begin work until the case is approved. The furlough will also have an impact on the Ombudsman’s ability to work with USCIS on reviewing and recommending solutions to system problems in the administration of immigration benefits. Since the start of the Trump administration, data shows that the backlog of cases at USCIS has continuously grown, … The USCIS was formed in 2003, alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Here are three impacts to be considered and discussed with immigration counsel to prepare for and strategize should there be no Congressional bail-out and should the furlough extend beyond 30 days. Vermont Business Magazine USCIS is currently scheduled to furlough 13,355 (or 67%) of its 19,881 employees on August 30, 2020, including over 1,000 in Vermont. July 22, 2020 Update: In contrast to the dire budget situation that was apparently faced by USCIS earlier in the year, it has now come to light that the USCIS in fact projects ending this year with a budget surplus. 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