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Update: USCIS backs down from plan to furlough 750 Virginia employees

(© W. Scott McGill –

Update: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 1:04 p.m. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has backed down from its plans to furlough more than 750 Virginia employees beginning next week.


Original post: Friday, Aug. 21, 12:40 p.m. U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are raising issue with plans by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to furlough more than 13,000 employees, including more than 750 in Virginia.

In a letter, the senators urged USCIS Acting Director Joseph Edlow to continue to pay its employees and immediately halt the planned Aug. 30 furloughs that would financially devastate many civil servants and delay the processing of important immigration processes, including refugee petitions, as well as naturalization and green card applications.

“While we differ with President Trump’s administration on many immigration policy matters and believe USCIS could benefit from better fiscal management, USCIS civil servants should not be forced to pay the price for this administration’s choices and other agency decisions that led to the current financial state of USCIS,” the senators wrote in the letter. “As you know all too well, furloughing approximately 13,400 USCIS employees on August 30, would have disastrous effects on the livelihoods of families in the Commonwealth and across the country.  In Virginia alone, more than 750 civil servants could be left without a paycheck amidst the tremendous economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The consequences of such furloughs would not only reverberate within their families and our region, but also within the immigrant communities USCIS serves.”

“If USCIS were to furlough a vast majority of its workforce, this would drastically undercut the agency’s mission to facilitate lawful entry and immigration to the United States,” they continued. “People throughout Virginia and the United States count on a fully functioning USCIS, including countless immigrants who await naturalization ceremonies, employers who rely on the talent and labor of nonimmigrant workers, and vulnerable populations such as asylum seekers.”

USCIS is the federal agency that oversees immigration into the United States, adjudicating immigration benefits and processing visa petitions, as well as asylum, citizenship, naturalization, green card, and refugee applications. The agency, which is funded by the application fees paid by applicants and petitioners, faces a budget shortfall due to a 50 percent drop in applications.

Reports indicate that this drop has been caused in part by the administration’s own policies.