Immigration has never been a fast process. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) takes months to process individual applications. Even those with competitive skills and an employment offer from a domestic company can still struggle with entry into the United States.
People can wait years for their application to receive approval or for their turn to win in an immigration lottery for the most popular visas. Those with pending applications and those hoping to adjust their status may soon find that they have to wait longer than they did in the past.
It will likely take even longer than before for the USCIS to manage immigration requests now that they have announced the upcoming furlough of thousands of employees.
Currently, there are approximately 20,000 USCIS employees reviewing immigration requests, visa applications and naturalization paperwork. These workers handle a million annual applications for citizenship, three million temporary work permit requests and another million Green Card applications related to existing citizens and permanent residents. These workers do background checks, administer tests and conduct immigration interviews.
According to a recent Announcement by the USCIS, on August 30, 2020, they will furlough approximately 13,400 employees. This massive reduction in staff will almost certainly lead to even longer wait times for those hoping to adjust their status, legally enter the United States or become a citizen.
The USCIS will soon operate with what it calls a “skeleton crew,” in part because of decreased fee revenue. Closed field offices have slowed immigration processing substantially over the last few months, and that drop in revenue will now result in drastic staffing cuts.
Those currently in the process of adjusting their status, renewing a visa or sponsoring a loved one may find that the timetable for completing the process increases substantially over the next few months.
With ongoing high demand for immigration services and a decreased workforce, the USCIS will undoubtedly struggle to handle immigration requests in the future. Those hoping to change their status or bring a loved one into the country will likely benefit from getting legal advice and assistance with this competitive and difficult process.