The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) provided formal recommendations last week on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) should address its chronic underfunding.
USCIS is almost exclusively funded by service fees, a model that leaves the agency “consistently under-resourced.” according to the Ombudsman. The funding problems make it “nearly impossible (for USCIS) to meet obligations and (inhibits) its ability to quickly address new and emerging circumstances”, the Ombudsman said. The Ombudsman said USCIS should seek legislative or regulatory actions to:
Background: USCIS has long faced funding challenges that have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem has exacerbated processing delays across many visa categories. A federal appropriations bill in March provided $275 million in funding for USCIS to address processing backlogs and delays. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also working to publish a proposed rule to “establish new USCIS fees to recover USCIS operating costs.” While USCIS is not likely to adopt all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations, it is required to respond to the recommendations within three months. BAL will continue following USCIS’ efforts to address its funding and processing challenges and will provide updates as information becomes available.
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