After four months of pandemic, four months of reduced fee income, USCIS is OUT of money. https://www.visacoach.com/uscis_furloughs_employees/ 13,400 employees, received furlough notices. Printing of Green Cards and EAD and AP cards have stopped. How will this affect your case ??
In The Visacoach newsletter, I reported months ago that USCIS was processing cases very quickly.
This was due to their office’s receiving far fewer applications than normal. While other businesses closed during the pandemic,
USCIS did not. Yes, they were not allowing in-person meetings or interviews with the public, but their back offices continued to
work uninterrupted. Basically they had plenty of staff but with less work to do. That’s why recent cases enjoyed faster processing.
But the party is over
USCIS is broke, they are running out of money.
USCIS operates as a self supporting fee based agency. This means they do not receive tax payer dollars to support their operations. Instead they support themselves entirely by the fees you pay when you file your application.
Their current application fee revenue is only 40% of its normal level. At the same time, their staffing is at 100%. Having “done the math”, USCIS expects to run out of money by August.
They have asked Congress to bail them out. They want to raise fees, charge surcharges on top of the new raised fees, and want 1.2 billion dollars in loans..
USCIS has asked Congress to approve higher across the board fees (including a huge $445 increase to apply for US Citizenship, also $545 for work authorization and $585 for travel authorization).
USCIS has ALSO asked to add a temporary 10% surcharge on top of any application fees charged.
And finally USCIS has asked Congress for a $1.2 BILLION dollar loan to tide them over. The temporary 10% surcharge would probably be applied until the money is paid back.
In the mean time, USCIS has sent notices to 13,400 employees notifying them to expect to be furloughed in August. If the loan falls through the employees stay home.
And green card and work and travel authorization applicants have already suffered.
USCIS previously contracted out the printing of green cards and work and travel authorization cards. The contract with the outside printing company ended in June. USCIS chose to not renew the contract as they hoped to save money by doing the printing themselves inhouse.
But, due to lack of funding, they have not hired new any staff who knows how to run the printing presses. So until their budget problems are fixed, no more green cards, no more work authorization cards.
So far 50,000 approved green cards, and 75,000 approved work and travel authorization cards Have not been printed, not issued to the applicants.
The fate of your application, and many thousands more like yours, and the fate of USCIS all lies in what Congress does.
If Congress DOES grant the loan, and does so soon, USCIS can keep its employees working, and can find a way to start printing green cards.
And if that happens, and they are still getting less new cases, then for your case, if you can submit it soon,
You can expect to enjoy faster processing, at least until the pandemic is under control, and new applications return to prior levels.
If Congress does NOT grant the loan, then expect all cases to slow to a miserable crawl.
In either case, you will pay higher fees.
No matter what happens, submitting as soon as possible, is still your best course. Depending on how soon you submit, you will most likely avoid the fee increases. And any progress you make before any reductions in staffing (if they occur) will put your case that much further along the processing path.
As always with US immigration it is “first come, first serve”.
This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach