US citizenship agency, visas plan to suspend two-thirds of staff in August

WASHINGTON – The US Citizenship and Immigration Service. The US, which is responsible for approving citizenship, work visas and other benefits for legal immigrants, has begun notifying 13,400 of its 20,000 employees that they will be suspended starting August 3 unless Congress approves more funds, A spokesperson for the agency told NBC News.

The agency relies primarily on fees paid by applicants, which have decreased by 50 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic and are estimated to decrease by more than 60 percent at the end of the fiscal year, the spokesperson said.

“This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity. Without additional funds from Congress before August 3, USCIS has no choice but to administratively suspend a substantial portion of our workforce,” the statement said. .

Starting in April, the Trump administration postponed asylum hearings for immigrants and froze the issuance of a wide range of visas, citing the need to protect American jobs. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday extending and expanding his original proclamation until December 31.

But there are other categories of visa applicants, including health care workers who responded to the COVID-19 outbreak, and food processing workers, who are still able to enter the United States and whose applications may be slowed by the reduction in personal.

According to recent reports, prospective citizens have already delayed their naturalization ceremonies and face lengthy delays.

Without the help of Congress, the agency’s creditworthiness could be in doubt, two USCIS officials said. During the pandemic, the agency continued to process some requests that did not require face-to-face interviews, but a permit could even finish that job, one of the officials said.