How Government Shutdown Affects Immigration Processes

Written by Frederik Stefani
January 15, 2019

The current administration wants a southern border wall and has said it won’t pass a federal spending bill without it. The result: the federal government has temporarily shutdown. This shutdown involves many government agencies, including those concerned with immigration. When the government shuts down on budgetary grounds, many personnel are furloughed (off work without pay) and others are expected to continue work (also without pay) so even agencies that are still open may be understaffed.

Following is the status of some key immigration-related government agencies:

USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is a fee-funded agency; therefore, it continues to operate even during the government shutdown. DACA renewal processing will continue. Some non-essential staff will be furloughed, and processing pauses are predicted.

DOS: The Department of State visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be affected by a failure in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored strictly (closely? carefully?). If visa transactions are affected, consular posts will frequently publish any limited services. Visa interviews and stamping appointments will continue.

CBP: Customs and Border Protection inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “indispensable.” All Ports of entry will continue to be open; processing of applications filed at the border should not be affected. International business travelers should be allowed into the United States following standard admission procedures.

ICE: Immigration Customs and Enforcement operations will remain open, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained cases during a shutdown. The Immigration Customs and Enforcement Student and Exchange Visitor Program offices are untouched since fees fund SEVP. EOIR- Executive Office for Immigration Review which is part of Department of Justice (DOJ) is closed due to government shutdown. All its employees including immigration judges are furloughed and are not permitted to work. Immigration court have a large number of cases in its docket and the shutdown it will make it worse for thousands of people who are currently in the immigration court system.

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