Financial problems experienced by USCIS may prevent people from obtaining green cards, visas, and other important immigration services.
COVID-19 has had major financial impacts for businesses and government agencies throughout the United States. As the country continues struggling with a high number of cases, federal funding is needed to keep the economy afloat. Immigration services have been among the hardest hit, as the Trump administration imposed strict limitations early in the pandemic. Without a government bailout, USCIS could end up closing its doors by the end of summer, impacting people seeking green cards, visas, and other immigration services. Furthermore, shutting down the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for supposed “financial” difficulties would accomplish through a back-door method a goal President Trump has long hoped for — a vast shutdown of immigration.
Reduction in Immigration Services Causes Financial Problems for USCIS
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every area of life, including immigration services. Since April of 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has operated on heavy restrictions. This is a result of social distancing mandates, as well as an order from President Trump that aimed to reduce rising unemployment numbers by limiting the number of people from other nations who were allowed to come and work in the U.S.
In a Presidential Proclamation issued by the White House, a temporary 60-day ban was placed on green cards and visas. As many immigration offices were forced to close during this time, citizenship proceedings in general also ground to a halt.
With massive losses in the usual immigration filing fees that would have otherwise been collected during this time, USCIS was unable to print the green cards and work permits needed once the immigration ban was lifted at the end of June. As a result, hundreds of thousands of immigrants have been left in limbo. Meanwhile, mandatory furloughs of USCIS workers have resulted in a further reduction of immigration services.
Immigration Faces Uncertain Future Without Federal Funding
COVID-19 is not the sole cause of USCIS’s financial problems. The agency had already been facing budget issues due to having to enforce the President’s tough new policies against immigration over the past several years. According to a July 22, 2020 news report by The Hill, without an infusion of funds, the agency may find itself unable to continue operations by the end of summer.
As a fee-funded program, USCIS recently notified Congress that it was running out of money and that without a federal bailout, it would have to furlough nearly two-thirds of its workforce in the coming months. In addition to having this funding included in any future stimulus packages approved by the President, the agency also wants to increase fees for immigration services by at least 10%. Even with these measures, immigrants are likely to face the following hurdles in the months ahead:
- Stricter requirements for issuance of green cards and work visas;
- Longer application wait times;
- Slower processing of citizenship claims.
Contact Our Nashville Immigration Attorneys Today
At Ozment Law, PLC., we provide the trusted legal guidance you need in dealing with immigration issues during these difficult times. To get our team working on your side, contact our Nashville immigration attorneys and request a consultation today.