According to reports, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to lay off about 1,000 Kansas City-area National Benefits Center (NBC) contract workers, effective May 29, 2020. NBC processes many immigration-related application types and case intake paperwork, conducts background and security checks, and issues Requests for Evidence (RFEs), among other activities.
The layoffs come as USCIS, a fee-based agency, has warned that fee receipts have dropped precipitously and that it may soon run out of money as a result, and is requesting $1.2 billion in emergency funds from Congress. USCIS said it plans to increase fees by 10 percent to cover the emergency funding and may need to furlough additional workers. The agency had already implemented a hiring freeze for most positions before the pandemic.
Even before the layoffs, there were reports of ongoing crisis-level delays in adjudications of immigration-related applications, petitions, and other requests. Case processing time has risen despite a drop in the number of forms received and despite repeated warnings that the delays, along with anti-immigrant messaging from the top, are discouraging talent from coming to the United States and driving them to go elsewhere. When the immigrants disappear, so do the fees USCIS collects from them and their employers.
With already massive increases in RFEs, delayed adjudications, and filing rejections, these layoffs will further choke the immigration processing framework. The COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions are only a part of what’s ailing USCIS and driving this precipitous downturn. The Trump administration’s anti-immigration efforts since day 1 tell the rest of this story.
- “Should They Stay or Should They Go? Contradictory Trends and Signals on Immigration,” Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP, https://wolfsdorf.com/blog/2020/03/05/should-they-stay-or-should-they-go-contradictory-trends-and-signals-on-immigration/
- “About 1,000 Kansas City Workers Learn of Potential Layoffs Ahead of Holiday Weekend,” Kansas City Star, https://amp.kansascity.com/news/local/article242937081.html?__twitter_impression=true
- “Employees Concerned After Agency Threatens Furloughs Over Budget Shortfall,” GovExec.com, https://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2020/05/employees-concerned-after-agency-threatens-furloughs-over-budget-shortfall/165615/
Contact your WR attorney for advice in specific situations.