Since May, USCIS has threatened three-quarters of its employees’ vacation days in August if it doesn’t get a $ 1.2 billion loan and an average fee increase of 21% to close the budget gap. More than 13,000 of the 20,000 USCIS employees are reported to be working on citizenship and visa processes receives vacation notifications when there is no emergency funding. In addition, some notifications may have been received for a vacation in late July.
USCIS appears to have sent a formal notice to the union representing USCIS employees that up to 70 percent of the agency’s employees could be on leave by August 3, 2020. Vacation days that are expected to be longer than 30 days require this formal notification. Therefore, the planned vacation days will not be short-term. The union president, representing 2,500 USCIS employees in Washington, D.C. explained the obvious::
It is not in the best interests of the American people to allow such a failure – which would have a significant impact on millions of legal immigrants, permanent residents, and U.S. citizens and would adversely affect American businesses, educational institutions, the economy, and our rights enforcement and health systems ….
USCIS was informed that no additional funds shouldn’t burden US taxpayers. The agency acknowledges that every loan would have to be repaid. In other words, to make up for the deficit, funding must come from increased fees that put the entire burden on immigrants, employers and naturalization seekers. If the increased fees don’t hinder immigration, the even longer delays that come from vacationing will surely be. A It is estimated that 860,000 people should be naturalized this year – However, due to the combined effects of the pandemic and the proposed vacation days, these people must not become citizens before the November elections.
The funding problem at USCIS is not simply due to COVID-19. Although the drop in registrations associated with the pandemic may have been the last straw. Budget problems with USCIS have existed for several years. Unfortunately the funding needed seems to have become another political battlefield. Adding another 13,000 people to the ranks of the unemployed should not help the US economy.
Jackson Lewis lawyers will continue to monitor this situation and will post updates as they become available.
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