Does the government shutdown affect immigration processes?

| Jan 15, 2019 | Employment Immigration

More than three weeks ago, the disagreement between the executive and legislative branches of our government over funding for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico resulted in a stalemate. Consequently, the president called for a partial government shutdown.

While immigration issues were the root cause of the shutdown, federal immigration services will remain—by and large—unaffected by it. In today’s post, we outline the services that are impacted:

What is unaffected

The partial shutdown does not affect:

  • So-called “essential” employees—predominantly from law enforcement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security,
  • Programs that already have allocated funding in place and
  • Programs that are self-sustaining—through a fee-based system.

For the most part, immigration programs fall under categories 2 and 3 above. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices will remain open, and interviews and appointments will proceed as usual. The majority of applications and petitions will also be processed during this time.

What is affected

Some immigration programs rely on funding to operate. The following programs are currently suspended:

  • E-Verify
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program
  • Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 doctors
  • Non-minister religious workers

What may be affected

In addition, there are other immigration programs which currently have funding and will remain operational—as long as the shutdown ends before their funding expires. The Department of Labor is funded through September 30 of this year, meaning that you can still file the below applications during this time:

  • Labor Condition Application (LCA)
  • PERM Labor Certification Application

In addition, the State Department has announced that visa and passport processing services—which are fee-based and therefore should be protected from the shutdown—”will remain operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations.” Some reports indicate that such services may slow down—or stop altogether—during the shutdown.

We will post any updates on the partial shutdown—and its impacts on immigration services for citizens and foreigners alike—on this blog.