US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Friday that staffing furloughs originally planned to begin August 3, have been delayed until August 31.  The delays, which could have affected some 70% of USCIS staff engaged in processing these benefits, stemmed from an allegedly “crippling budget shortfall” stemming from agency predictions of  a 61% drop in application and petition requests through the end of the fiscal year.

Members of Congress have questioned USCIS’s projections about its funding, including Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who has said the agency projected it would end the fiscal year with a budget surplus.  A USCIS spokesperson also indicated that recent uptick in revenue has allowed the agency to postpone the furloughs.  Despite this, the agency is standing by its original request to Congress for an additional $1.2 billion in emergency funding, plus authorization to add a 10% surcharge on its application fees.

Our full coverage of the furlough issue may be found on The Mobile Workforce.

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