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, so you can be alerted as soon as more official details come to light. This story originally appeared in El Paso Matters. U.S. “T he planned USCIS furloughs are an unnecessary disaster for Vermont workers, their families, and the local economies that rely on these jobs. 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. 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. As of now, experts say it’s too soon to know what the impacts of the furloughs will be on green card and U.S. citizenship applications. USCIS declined to make Edlow available for an interview, but in a statement sent to reporters, he said a future furlough remains a possibility. "All USCIS operations, including naturalization ceremonies, will be impacted by a furlough," spokesperson Joe Sowers said in a statement. NVC and the embassies + consulates are part of DOS. “There are already so many backlogs to work through.”. 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. 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. 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. 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. Congrats! 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. 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. “Well right now I’m supposedly one step away from becoming a U.S. citizen,” said Martha, an immigrant […] Applicants typically only require one service at a time. Furloughs will likely impact processing times, resulting in an applications and petitions taking much longer to be adjudicated. In short, it is a lack of financial planning and austerity. 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. Late in July, USCIS agreed to postpone the […] Fewer staff members will further slow down the immigration and reduce what fees the USCIS can collect. 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. 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. 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. Furloughs at USCIS would not directly impact processes at NVC or the embassy/consulate. Stay up to date by following Boundless on. The agency threatened to furlough over 13,000 of its staff in the process—a step that would bring the U.S. immigration system to a near standstill. 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 is under increasing pressure from Republicans and Democrats to delay the furlough. Attorney services are provided by independent attorneys and are subject to a separate Attorney Agreement. 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. 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. U.S. Since the start of the Trump administration, data shows that the backlog of cases at USCIS has continuously grown, … 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. A looming furlough of thousands of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees could delay naturalizations for new citizens and prevent them from voting in the November election. 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. 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. 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. View the original story HERE. Last week, the U.S. What other visa categories may be affected by a furlough? Boundless is not a law firm and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. "At this time, we do not have the number of … 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. 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.” 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. Boundless is constantly monitoring changes to the U.S. immigration system to help keep you informed. These are but a few questions that will certainly be litigated in the near future. 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. If Congress doesn’t approve the bailout, the furlough could last for three months or longer, according to one report. 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. Possible Mass-Furloughs at USCIS Could Severely Impact Services. Without Premium Processing, cases already take months. Start the application with Boundless within the next 14 days, and you'll save $50. Because your friend referred you, your application with Boundless is discounted. 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. Thus, if the furlough goes into effect, it will interrupt nearly all permanent and temporary immigration processing. USCIS confirmed that its planned furlough of 70% of its workforce (13,400 employees) will be postponed at least until the end of August. Off late, we saw that H1B transfers, extensions, and amendments were getting approved in a record 15 days even when filed in … The furlough was expected to cause USCIS to all but stop processing immigration benefits, creating a crisis for the U.S. immigration system. In compliance with an order of a United States District Court, effective December 7, 2020, U.S. The USCIS, on June 25, provided a statement regarding the financial turmoil it is experiencing. 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%. 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. 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. Also, will the USCIS turn to greatly increasing filing fees? In the past few months, USCIS has taken action to avert a fiscal crisis, including limiting spending to salary and mission-critical activities. 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? 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. If an employer furloughs a worker in a visa category that does not have a prevailing wage requirement, additional action may still be needed. 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. Nevertheless, the USCIS is still asking for a bailout and it appears they still plan to furlough 13,000 workers come August 3. This will certainly increase the total processing time for various types of applications. 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 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. Blank immigration forms with written instructions, including for spousal visas, are available for free at the USCIS website. USCIS is planning to furlough its 13,000 employees due to lack of funding. USCIS regulations require employers to pay H-1B workers in periods of mandatory company-wide furloughs. USCIS is part of DHS. 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. Green Card [Redirects to /green-card/marriage/], Green card applicants with criminal records, Green Card Sponsors with Criminal Records. 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. We continue to work with Congress to provide the necessary funding to avert this unfortunate consequence.” 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. The furlough may affect the Premium Processing service, which USCIS recently reinstated in phases beginning June 1, 2020. 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. So what are the practical implications of the expected USCIS furlough of two-thirds of its entire workforce, over 13,000 employees? 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. It is also important to note that only the H1B allows for this portability. Adjudication standards at USCIS, since the Trump administration entered the White House, has very clearly become much more difficult. The furlough notices, which USCIS sent out earlier this month, said the unpaid time off would last for at least 30 days. Note that laws and interpretation of immigration laws change over time. Boundless is constantly monitoring changes to the U.S. immigration system to help keep you informed. 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