USCIS Furlough will Increase Processing Time (H1B, H4 EAD, I-130)

USCIS service centers are open but furlough will increase processing time for H1B, H4, L1, L2, EAD family I-130 applications. Hope that Congress approved funding.

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta    Updated  29 Jun, 20


USCIS is planning to furlough its 13,000 employees for about 30 days.

This will certainly increase the total processing time for various type of applications.

Attorney Greg Siskind reported the furlough first on his Twitter:

Off late, we saw that H1B transfers, extensions, and amendments were getting approved in a record 15 days even when filed in regular processing. This magic happened in COVID-19 emergency office closures.

USCIS did not stop working even though their offices were closed.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services started opening some offices with limited personal interaction options:

  • The number of appointments and interviews per day is reduced.
  • You cannot visit the USCIS facility if you are feeling sick.

USCIS closed its public dealing offices like ASC (for biometric) and naturalization interview centers earlier in March after the national emergency declaration by Trump.

Applications Processing Time Increase

The EAD applicants have been affected a lot by the current situation where USCIS is not approving their EAD applications due to the nonavailability of biometric fingerprints.

USCIS is reopening some biometric centers starting July 20 but that benefit would be offset by the ‘unpaid leave’ of USCIS employees being announced now.

Many people have lost their H4 EAD and L2 EAD jobs just because the law does not allow automatic or even an interim EAD for legal workers.

H4 EAD cannot work while renewal pending after current EAD expiry
H4 EAD cannot work while renewal pending after current EAD expiry

It is expected that all USCIS service centers at California, Vermont, Nebraska, Texas, and other places will be affected by the temporarily lay-off of the employees.

H1B, L1 applications for extension, change of status, and other non-immigrant applications will definitely see a multifold jump in processing time.

H1B, L, and J visa holders are already struggling to get back to the USA due to the travel ban and US embassy closures and now the USCIS furlough will add another problem to take care of.

Can I File New Extensions, Transfer, Change of Status

You can file your H1b extension, transfer or amendment, i485 green card adjustment of status, H4 EAD, F1 extension, or any other application normally.

Note that extension application should be filed before i94 expiry. USCIS may not give relaxation later if you fail to file as USCIS is open.

H1B & i140 Premium Processing

Recently, many people have reported that USCIS is refunding their premium processing fee as they are unable to process it in 15 calendar days.

The status shows as “Fee will be refunded” on USCIS case status website:

H1B premium processing fee refunded status
H1B premium processing fee refunded status

If premium fees are refunded, USCIS might process your application in an expedited time frame but it could be more than 15 days.

It is also based on the USCIS officer’s discretion.

Premium processing time after USCIS refunds fee
Premium processing time after USCIS refunds fee

Is this the early signs of furlough coming up quickly?

I-130 Family Applications

The family-based green card application processing time will be affected too. Current processing times are already 5+ years and this can increase substantially if USCIS employees go on unpaid leave.

Naturalization – Citizenship Ceremony

USCIS is sending new appointment notices to people who are waiting for their citizenship ceremony.

To keep up with CDC’s social distancing norms, USCIS will reduce the length of the total ceremony.

  • You will be asked to watch videos on the USCIS website but all legally required portions of the ceremony will take place while you are physically present at the location.
  • No extra people or family members are allowed other than who needs to take naturalization oath and individuals providing assistance to disabled persons.

Asylum

All asylum interview appointments are being rescheduled. Your new appointment notice will have a new time, date, and location for the interview.

You can expect:

  • To be interviewed visa video conference inside USCIS interview location (not from your home).
  • All family members listed on the interview appointment notice should visit at the same time.
  • Your interpreter should go to the interview center with you.

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Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta           

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