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Budget shortfall to cripple immigration agency

If you are an immigrant living here in New York City who is seeking a green card, citizenship or asylum, you may soon face a setback in your quest. Due to a lack of funding, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued over 13,000 of its employees furlough notices.

Important sections of the country's immigration system will see a dramatic reduction in their capabilities unless Congress acts to provide emergency funding to the agency's budget prior to Aug. 3. The furloughs could last for as long as 90 days if the budget doesn't get a boost during this crisis period. USCIS receives most of its funding via applications for immigration benefits.

Why the budget shortfall?

Certainly, the worldwide health crisis has played a role in the decline in applications filed by immigrants. But, that does not solely account for the decline. The current administration has shown that its policies are not exactly welcoming to immigrants applying for green cards and other relief.

What will be the impact of budget shortfall?

If you thought in the past that it took a long time to get through the United States immigration system, your patience will surely be tried in the future. One former official for immigration policy at the federal Department of Homeland Security stated, "Backlogs will grow longer. People will wait longer to become citizens, get green cards. Asylum will grind to a halt."

Others share her view, noting that this could be the "final nail in the coffin" of our country's immigration system. Those affected will include:

  • Educational institutions
  • Families
  • Businesses
  • Churches
  • Medical facilities

The head of USCIS continues to lobby Congress for $1.2 billion in appropriations to dodge the bullet of the budget shortfall. But, as always, politics plays a part, with advocates seeking concessions.

How it could affect your case

Unless the funding is restored swiftly, you should expect extremely long wait times for even the most basic of services. Initial asylum screenings to determine whether immigrants have the right to petition for protection here in America, naturalizations, issuance of work permits and green cards will also face major time delays.

What you can do

By working closely with your New York immigration attorney, you can remain abreast of any changes to the immigration process and be able to act accordingly to protect your own interests.

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