U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has asked Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency funding to make up for a shortfall in revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Key points:

  • The agency told Congress Friday that it would run out of money this summer without an injection of funds. USCIS is primarily funded by fees for immigration petitions and applications rather than taxpayer funding.
  • The agency is reportedly considering imposing a surcharge on petitions and applications to cover the shortfall.
  • A regulation that the agency proposed in November would significantly increase filing fees. Fees for H-1B petitions would increase by up to 22% and for L-1 petitions by up to 77%. The public comment period closed Feb. 10 and the regulation could be finalized in coming months.

Background: Since March 18, USCIS Application Support Centers have been closed and in-person services, such as interviews and biometrics appointments, have been suspended. Those offices are scheduled to reopen June 4 unless the closures are extended. USCIS Service Centers, where immigration petitions and applications are processed, have continued to operate during the national emergency.

BAL Analysis: USCIS does not normally seek Congressional funding, and if Congress does approve emergency funding, it could attach strings, such as requiring USCIS to improve processing time frames or provide updates to Congress.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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