Updates for Week of August 24th: Furloughs Averted & Interview Waiver Expanded
USCIS Furlough Averted … For Now
On August 25th, USCIS announced that it will be able to delay the furloughing of 13,000 employees (nearly 70% of workforce) previously scheduled to begin August 30th. USCIS now expects to be operational at least through September 30, 2020.
The furlough was averted by severely cutting costs which means backlogs and wait times will still increase across the board. Cost cutting was achieved by reducing the scope of contractors that assisted USCIS adjudicators in processing cases, preparing case files and other support activities. As such, anticipated impacts include increased wait times for pending case inquiries with the USCIS Contact Center, longer case processing times, and increased processing time for adjusting status or naturalization cases (naturalization ceremonies will continue).
A return to normal operations still requires congressional intervention.
DOS Temporarily Expands Interview Waiver Eligibility
On August 25th, the Department of State announced that it has temporarily expanded the waiver of in-person interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants. Previously, visa applicants applying for visa renewals in the same classification were eligible to have their interview waived if their nonimmigrant visa had not expired for more than 12 months. The expiration period has been temporarily extended from 12 to 24 months. This temporary policy is in effect until December 31, 2020.