The health crisis of COVID-19 has affected millions of people across the globe. Governments issued executive orders to close certain businesses and keep citizens home by limiting gatherings in an effort to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus. Many employees in all types of industries have been temporarily laid off or furloughed due to the economic hardship the coronavirus has inflicted on the world. Some business owners have even been forced to sell or dissolve their companies altogether. The economic hardship that the world is experiencing has impacted the immigration process as well. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) manages the processing of applications for work permits, U.S. citizenship, Green Cards, and other immigration benefits. USCIS recently announced it would not furlough more than 13,000 employees as the agency had originally planned.
According to Deputy USCIS Director for Policy Joseph Edlow, the agency was able to avoid furloughing approximately 70 percent of its workforce because its financial situation had improved slightly since the spring after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant drop in petitions. Despite employee furloughs being canceled, for the time being, USCIS said it has to implement spending cuts to avoid immediate hardship on its employees. These budget cuts will impact all aspects of the agency, including its contracts.
Since USCIS is a fee-for-service organization, it relies on the revenue collected through visitor petitions and citizenship applications in order to keep the agency running. The pandemic has severely reduced its operating budget and forced the agency to ask Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency funding to continue operations at the start of the next fiscal year.
The agency said naturalization ceremonies for new U.S. citizens would continue although contracted work for USCIS adjudicators would be reduced, resulting in longer processing times for pending applications and cases. Edlow said cost-reducing actions may prolong the processing of citizenship applications without swift congressional action.
Contact an Illinois Immigration Attorney
COVID-19 has impacted the daily lives of people all over the world. Many non-essential businesses have been temporarily or permanently closed, leading workers to lose their jobs. Although USCIS has avoided furloughs, certain immigrant visas have been delayed. At the Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, we understand the complex nature of immigration law and how important obtaining lawful entry to the United States is to so many. Our dedicated Illinois immigration lawyers provide skilled legal representation for immigrants so they can achieve their dreams of living in the United States. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at 630-875-1700.