U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has said it will send notices no later than Thursday (July 2) to some 13,400 of its more than 19,000 employees that they will be furloughed starting August 3 unless the agency receives a budget supplement before then.
“Though we continue to have productive conversations with Congress, we want employees who may be furloughed to have sufficient time to prepare. Further, we are legally required to provide employees with advance written notice at least 30 calendar days prior to the effective date of an expected furlough,” the agency said in a statement posted on its site.
That notice is required because the furloughs are expected to last at least 30 days. Without a funding infusion the furloughs could last at least through the September 30 end of the fiscal year and potentially even longer, given that the reason is what the agency called an “alarming drop” in applications for work visas and other services the agency provides; fees from those applications constitute the large majority of its budget.
The agency has asked for $1.2 billion, which it said would be paid back to the Treasury through an increase in those fees, noting in its statement that the request has the backing of both its parent agency DHS and the OMB.
Furloughs of that magnitude would “have tremendous negative impacts on our mission administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity, and protecting the American people. We urge Congress to provide the funding needed to pay our dedicated staff and ensure our operations continue uninterrupted during these unprecedented times,” the agency said.
The most likely vehicle for a supplemental would be another pandemic relief bill. However, the Senate continues to show no signs of an intent to take up a measure the House passed more than a month ago. While that measure did not include money for USCIS, funding could be added to it.
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