Potential Government Shutdown and What it Means for Immigration

imgresWhile it is not the first time that there has been a potential, or actual, shutdown of the US Government, it still does raise many questions about what, if any, immigration services will continue during any potential shutdown.  Below is a list of agencies and what they will be able to do, and what they will not do, during a shutdown:

Department of Labor (DOL):  Would not be impacted by a government shutdown. On September 28, 2018, President Trump signed a minibus appropriations bill funding DOL through the end of September 30, 2019.

USCIS: USCIS is a funded via user fees (application fees),  so if the government shuts down, it is generally business as usual. The exception to this is those programs that receive appropriated funds.  This includes E­Verify (including myEVerify and customer service), the EB­5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J­1 doctors, and non­minister religious workers. As announced by USCIS on January 20, 2018, those programs may be suspended or otherwise impacted.  In terms of the programs and cases that USCIS cannot work on during the shutdown, while USCIS has not stated how it will handle such cases, in 2013, USCIS accepted late I­129 filings provided the petition was submitted with evidence that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was the government shutdown.

NOTE: USCIS confirmed that DACA renewal processing will continue during any

DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee­funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and “life or death” emergencies.

 

CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.

EOIR: Immigration court cases on the detained docket will proceed during the lapse in congressional appropriations while non­detained docket cases will be reset for a later date when funding resumes. Courts with detained dockets will receive all filings but will only process those involving detained dockets. Courts with only non­detained dockets will not be open and will not accept filings.

CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Please call us with any specific questions.  Thank you.