With congressional negotiations failing, a federal spending bill was not agreed upon resulting in a government shutdown. This is the first such U.S. Government shutdown since 2013. In light of the government shutdown we are frequently asked how this will impact the processing of U.S. Immigration matters. Fortunately, many U.S. Immigration matters will proceed normally as the involved agencies are considered essential and are not funded by the federal spending bill.
Here is a specific breakdown of how each agency is impacted by the U.S. Government shutdown:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS is a fee-funded agency and will operate as usual.
- U.S. Department of State (DOS): Visa and passport operations are fee-funded 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.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (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.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown.
- U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): The DOL will stop processing all applications, and personnel are not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. DOL’s web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, will not inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.
- CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.