In a sudden reversal, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it no longer plans to furlough almost 70% of its employees. While this means immigrants in Louisiana can still expect regular wait times for their applications, it could come with a higher cost. The USCIS also says that it still expects to run out of money, although several lawmakers have demonstrated that this may not be the case.
The original furlough plans were in response to an apparent budget shortfall because of fewer applications in early 2020. The agency had also predicted that there would be 61% fewer immigration petitions from May to Sept. 2020. This prediction was inaccurate, as lawmakers pointed out that in May 2020 the USCIS actually made $800 million more than it had predicted.
Those same lawmakers also predicted that the USCIS still has sufficient funding to operate at full capacity through the end of Nov. 2020. It is not clear what will happen after this. The USCIS requested $1.2 billion in emergency funds from the U.S. government but have yet to receive any type of financial support. The agency also proposed repaying this aid by adding a 10% surcharge to applications.
The frequent changes as well as the back and forth decisions have probably left many immigrants in Louisiana feeling emotionally exhausted. It is difficult to know what to do when it feels like the USCIS rules are always different than the day before. This is why it might be advantageous to speak with an experienced attorney before making decisions regarding applications or petitions.