More Than 13,000 USCIS Workers Face Possible Furlough Amid Coronavirus

Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Officials with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal employee union in the country, said Tuesday that more than 13,000 federal workers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) face a possible furlough of at least 30 days.

Nearly three-quarters of the USCIS workforce will be affected by the possible furlough, and notices will reportedly be handed out to USCIS employees between Wednesday and July 3, The Washington Post reported. The furlough itself is expected to go into effect August 3.

USCIS, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, has seen a reduction in operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, as visa and citizenship services have declined sharply. The Trump administration temporarily halted green card applications in April, and cross-border travel is at an all-time low.

An empty entrance is posted following a two-week closure of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) building and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office because of an employee who may be infected with the novel coronavirus in Tukwila, Washington on March 3, 2020. - The US death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic rose to seven on March 3 after authorities confirmed that a nursing home patient who died last week was infected with the disease. All seven US deaths from COVID-19, as the virus is called, have been in Washington state. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

An empty entrance is posted following a two-week closure of a USCIS field office (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Fees, which make up 97% of the agency’s revenue, are projected to fall 60% through the remainder of the fiscal year, according to Fox News. The agency also told Congress in May that it required a one-time emergency request for funding in order to continue operations normally.

“Without congressional intervention, USCIS will need to administratively furlough approximately 13,400 employees,” a USCIS representative told The Washington Post in an email. (RELATED: Immigration Offices Closed To The Public, Interviews Canceled Amid Coronavirus Pandemic)

USCIS requested an allocation of $1.2 billion in congressional funding over two years, and pledged to repay the funds to the U.S. Treasury Departments, CBS News reported. The agency’s proposal, however, would also require an additional 10% surcharge on immigration petitions.

Without the appropriate financial support, the potential USCIS furloughs could be as widespread as the federal workforce furloughs that took place in 2013, when sequestration budget limits forced federal agencies to cut pay from employees.

“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 President Everett Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee last week at a hearing.