Prime News, International, (Washington), June 25:-More than 13,000 people employed in the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) workforce are expected to face extended furlough starting August 3 that would cut off their salaries and will severely curtail the agency’s work, Washington Post reported citing union representing the employees.USCIS management will send notices of potential furloughs between Wednesday and July 3, under government personnel rules requiring advance notice when a furlough is projected to last 30 days or moreMoreover, the USCIS has seen a dramatic decrease in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fees from visa and citizenship applications and other services it provides are down sharply in the wake of the pandemic.
The USCIS has said it will need to take action unless it receives a cash infusion from Congress.
“We got a distinct impression that they did not want to do the furloughs but if they did not get money from Congress they are going to have to,” said Danielle Spooner, president of AFGE Council 119.
This development comes after President Donald Trump passed an executive order barring many categories of foreign workers and curbing immigration visas through the end of the year.
The action is further going to erode the agency’s main source of funding.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has seen a dramatic decrease in revenue and is seeking a one-time emergency request for funding to ensure we can carry out our mission of administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity, and protecting the American people,” a USCIS representative said in an email.
“Without congressional intervention, USCIS will need to administratively furlough approximately 13,400 employees.”
The agency has said that it needed an additional USD 1.2 billion to be spread over the rest of this fiscal year and the start of the new on.
“With a loss of nearly three-fourths of its workforce, work, student and visitor visa petitions, asylum and citizenship/naturalization applications, green cards, and refugee applications will not be processed,” AFGE National President Everett B Kelley told a House hearing last week.
“We recognize the enormous economic pain that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused throughout our nation and the world. But the United States should not and need not discontinue its capacity for administering legal immigration processes. But without this supplemental appropriation, that is exactly what will happen,” he said.
The threatened furlough at USCIS would be the most extensive in the federal workforce since mid-2013 when numerous agencies put some employees in unpaid status for several days scattered over the summer because of “sequestration” budget limits.
-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)