Cost-cutting measures by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are going to mean slower processing times and longer waits for immigrants who are trying to get their applications for visas, green cards and citizenship completed.

The agency, which is funded by the fees it collects rather than government tax dollars, has been in a financial crisis since it was forced to temporarily suspend operations for more than two months early this year. It’s new moves to slash its operating costs are designed to avert a massive furlough that was to begin at the end of August.

That’s decidedly mixed news for immigrants who need something processed or those who are waiting to be granted citizenship. While the agency isn’t entirely shut down, it is going to be moving at a snail’s pace for the foreseeable future.

In addition, international students, new citizens and businesses who are seeking workers from foreign countries are simultaneously being hit with higher fees related to work authorizations. Effective Oct. 2, 2020, the new fees range from a 21% increase to more than a 100% increase in what individuals and companies were required to pay for a visa application.

As the nation sits in an economic slump, this may hit both individuals and businesses pretty hard. They can ill-afford the regular fees, let alone any increases.

Now — more than ever before — there’s no room for a costly mistake on an application for a visa or a request for citizenship. Immigrants and their sponsoring employers are well-advised to have experienced legal assistance from the very start of the immigration process.