While USCIS will technically remain open after then end of this month, 75% of its workforce will be furloughed by the Trump Administration due to Trump's deliberate mismanagement of the agency to seek re-election.
Expectations are that while cases may still be filed with USCIS, any actual movement and work on those cases will grind to a virtual hault for as long as the Trump Administration finds it useful for Trump's re-election campaign.
“I don’t think I can emphasize enough how large an issue this will be – we’re looking at the final days of legal immigration as we know it in the United States,” said Ruark Hotopp, a representative for USCIS workers in Nebraska who has spent years assisting American businesses in his role at the USCIS.
“International students, scientists coming to America to study COVID-19, asylum seekers, workers recruited by American businesses, refugees – we’re talking about millions of people dealing with an immigration system running at 30 percent of the capacity it usually does. Our economy will lose billions in revenue, American businesses will lose access to the workforce they need, and hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants will be thrown into limbo.”
USCIS is basically out of money by choice. Here is how we got there. While increasing staffing at USCIS and increasing overall processing times the Trump Administration enacted the following attacks on legal immigration and nonimmigrant travel/work:
- Ban on issuance of H, L and J visas;
- Ban on all immigrant visas (other than certain immediate relatives and EB-5);
- Shutting down our asylum system;
- Admission of an unprecedentedly low number of refugees;
- Implementation of public charge provisions with the goal, and likely effect, of ending much of family immigration;
- Shutting down US consulates for over five months despite the fact that operations of businesses, schools and other institutions in many host countries have been fully operational for months;
- Ceasing the printing of Employment Authorization Documents and green cards;
- Implementation of a policy to separate children from parents;
- Appointing individuals, whose main qualification is that they are opposed to immigration, to leadership positions in various immigration agencies;
- Taking actions to significantly reduce foreign students in the U.S., including attempts to retroactively impose unlawful presence for technical and unknowing violations and attempts to disallow students to come to the U.S. or remain in the U.S. if their full time course of studies has become online because of the pandemic;
- Increasing processing times to unprecedented levels, despite a reduction in applications, by issuing inappropriate and burdensome Requests For Evidences, not giving deference to previous adjudications and implementing a policy of across the board interviews of cases that were not previously interviewed with the main goal of delaying the process;
- Denying applications that are approvable under existing law and previous interpretations;
- Announcing intention to issue new regulations to further restrict H-1B approvals and extensions.
The USCIS furloughs appear to be another step along these lines in the direction of halting immigration. US workers will be the ultimate losers here as Corporate America will shift it's business outside of the US to where the best and brightest are still welcome, and fewer jobs will be created here locally as business pivot away from trying to work in the US when there are plenty of other options for them to pursue outside the US.