US Citizenship and Immigration Services staff face furlough

We are still waiting to hear if there will be a temporary non-immigrant worker visa ban for certain US visa categories. The current coronavirus COVID-19 situation may be used as an excuse for what in reality, if it happens, will be some sort of partial work visa suspension.

If there is a visa suspension presumably this will affect both funding for USCIS and the amount of work that needs to be done by USCIS workers. Perhaps a partial work visa ban will also lead to USCIS workers being furloughed. We do not know what will happen in reality. However, this is what is apparently being considered:

* All new H1B visa specialty occupation worker applications would be banned unless the worker will be paid at the highest wage level (Level 4), as designated by the DOL. Apparently professions, in business, finance, research, and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields may be affected. Presumably due to the coronavirus COVID-19 situation health care workers working in this area will not be included in the ban.

* All new L1 visa intracompany transferees, which is for transfers from the overseas office to the US office could be banned. This could affect international executives, managers, or employees with advanced or specialized knowledge. This is a very useful visa category, as unlike the H1B visa category there is no quota.

* All new H2B visa temporary non-agricultural workers unless the work is essential to maintenance of the US food supply chain. There are many jobs where it is difficult to find US citizens and Green Card holders to do the work. This will cause serious problems in many industries.

In addition to this consideration is being given to restricting OPT Optional Practical Training for F1 student visa holders in the US and for H4 visa spouses. It remains to be seen what will happen. Trump’s last “immigration ban” of 22 April 2020 was not as far reaching as many expected.

Thousands of staff working for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) face being furloughed by the end of July, unless Congress intervenes with emergency funds. Workpermit.com recently reported that the government agency is on the brink of collapse and sought a $1.2 billion cash injection from Congress to stay afloat.

USCIS relies heavily on US visa and citizenship application fees to carry out its day-to-day operations. However, a slump in applications has left the agency cash-strapped and in need of a government bailout.

USCIS deputy director for policy, Joseph Edlow, said: “Without intervention from Congress, USCIS will be forced to start furloughing staff from July 20.”

By Daniel Waldron and Sanwar Ali for WORKPERMIT.COM
Read Full Article HERE

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