On August 22, 2020, the House passed a bill providing emergency funding for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to avoid a furlough on August 31st.
USCIS first planned to furlough approximately 13,400 employees on August 3rd. The agency postponed its furlough through August 31st to provide time to secure emergency funding. If the furlough was implemented, many of the agency’s operations would be reduced or halted. Additionally, the furlough would prevent approximately 100,000 individuals from taking citizenship oaths through November 2020. USCIS proposed the possibility of furloughs in May 2020 due to a shortfall in revenue from several causes.
If implemented unchanged, the bill will increase premium processing fees for select visa applications from $1,440 to $2,500. Additionally, it will extend premium processing services for other visa categories and applications as part of the emergency stopgap measure. USCIS will use premium processing revenues to improve its adjudication and naturalization services. The fees will also be used to reduce backlogs. USCIS states that the bill will protect premium processing applicants by suspending premium processing only when necessary. Non-premium applicants will benefit from faster adjudication times and shorter backlogs and delays for all forms.
The bill is currently awaiting approval from the Senate to secure emergency funding for USCIS.