U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is facing a massive shortfall in revenue that will affect operations, as the agency seeks ways to plug the gap. The agency is funded by fees on petitions and states that it has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of immigration petitions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key points:

  • USCIS continues to press Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency funding, while proposing to impose a 10% surcharge on all immigration petitions.
  • The agency is also working to finalize a regulation that would raise immigration benefit application fees across the board. Under the proposed version (before the pandemic), H-1B petitions would increase by up to 22% and L petitions by up to 77%, but the final regulation could contain changes to those figures.
  • Without an infusion of cash, the agency is reportedly prepared to furlough a large portion of its workforce later this summer.

BAL Analysis: Companies should be aware that USCIS fees are likely to increase in the coming months. The fee regulation is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Once OMB clears the rule, USCIS will make the final rule available for public inspection and then publish it in the Federal Register. Since the regulation makes significant changes, including policy changes that are typically not accomplished through a fee rule, it may face litigation. Additionally, if USCIS officers are furloughed, petitioners and applicants are likely to see delays and longer processing times. BAL is closely following the USCIS funding issues and will report new developments as information become available.

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

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