Congressional negotiations on a federal spending bill remain very active.
Drawing on information from past government shutdowns and announcements from the government agencies, AILA provides an overview of how a shutdown may impact immigration-related agencies. We will update this practice alert if new information becomes available.
Generally, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but “essential” personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.
USCIS: USCIS is a fee-funded agency so if the government shuts down, it is generally business as usual. The exception to this is those programs that receive appropriated funds – E-Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J-1 doctors, and non-minister religious workers. As announced by USCIS on January 20, 2018, those programs may be suspended or otherwise impacted. Note that while USCIS has not yet confirmed how cases will be processed post-shutdown, in 2013, USCIS accepted late I-129 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.
- January 21, 2018 Update: USCIS has confirmed that DACA renewal processing will continue.
- January 22, 2018 Update: USCIS confirmed that myE-Verify services are unavailable, including myE-Verify accounts, Self Check, Self Lock, Case History, and Case Tracker. USCIS also confirmed that E-Verify is unavailable, which means that employers will not be able to access their E-Verify accounts and Customer Service is closed. USCIS implemented temporary policies during the shutdown, including suspending the “three-day rule,” extending the time in which employees may resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs), and confirming that employers should not take adverse action against employees due to an interim case status during this time.
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.
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 non-detained 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 non-detained dockets will not be open and will not accept filings.
DOL: The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC’s web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be 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.
This information has been obtained from AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association).