How the Government Shutdown Affects Your Immigration Case
Congress was unable to reach a budget agreement for multiple federal agencies prior to the December 21st deadline. As a result, the federal government has partially shut down as of December 22, 2018.
For the most part, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Department of State Consular Services will continue to operate. Because USCIS is self-funded through filing fees, immigrant and non-immigrant visa petitions will continue being processed. There may, however, be an increase in processing times both here and abroad due to limited resources. Some agency systems may be shut down completely.
Here is an overview of how immigration related services are likely to be affected:
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES
USCIS will continue to operate normally during the shutdown. The agency has stated that Field Offices will remain open and individuals should plan to attend their scheduled interviews and appointments. USCIS will continue to accept new petitions and applications; however, there will likely be delays in the processing of petitions and applications that rely on information from other agencies.
USCIS offices will be closed on December 24, 2018, per President Trump's Executive Order.
E-Verify, the web-based system that allows employers to determine whether their employees are authorized to work in the U.S., is suspended during a shutdown. Compliance with Form I-9 requirements by employers is still required.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Visa operations are funded by filing fees and should not be impacted by the shutdown. Because consulates receive federal funding along with filing fees, there may be delays in the processing of applications. In the event visa operations are impacted by a shutdown that lasts for an extended period of time, consular posts would likely only handle diplomatic visas and emergency visas.
Passport operations are funded by filing fees and, therefore, should not be impacted by the shutdown.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
The Labor Department has secured federal funding into 2019, thus allowing most of its immigration related operations to continue. The processing of Labor Condition Applications, PERM Labor Certification Applications, and Prevailing Wage determinations is expected to continue. Delays in operations, however, may be likely.
CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION
Inspection and law enforcement are considered “essential” operations. Ports of entry into the U.S. will be open; however, processing of applications at the border may be affected.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE)
Enforcement and Removal
Immigration enforcement and removal operations will continue. It is unclear as of now how the shutdown will affect immigration courts.
Student and Exchange Visitors
ICE will continue to operate the fee-funded Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the program responsible for monitoring foreign students' arrival and departures into the country and compliance with student visa status.
If you have questions about how your immigration case may be impacted by the partial government shutdown, please schedule a consultation with our office at (847) 346-5565.
Source: AILA Practice Alert, AILA Doc. No. 17042640.