United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, announced that the agency will avert an administrative furlough of more than 13,000 employees, scheduled to begin Aug. 30, but that this comes at the cost of unprecedented spending cuts leading to increased wait times for case processing.
In an Aug. 25, 2020 press release, the agency said it expects to be able to maintain operations through the end of fiscal year 2020. Nevertheless, “Aggressive spending reduction measures will impact all agency operations, including naturalizations, and will drastically impact agency contracts.”
Despite the job uncertainties, USCIS employees had continued to work to administer the lawful immigration system, said Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow.
“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,” Edlow warned. “A return to normal operating procedures requires congressional intervention to sustain the agency through fiscal year 2021.” he said.
Among the anticipated operational impacts foreseen are, 1. increased wait times for pending case inquiries with the USCIS Contact Center; 2. longer case processing times; and 3. increased adjudication time for aliens adjusting status or naturalizing.
Naturalization ceremonies will continue, the agency said.
Though the U.S. Congress requested avoiding such massive cuts, USCIS said, “Congress must still act on a long-term solution that will provide USCIS with the necessary financial assistance to sustain the agency throughout FY 2021 and beyond.”