The information below is intended as an advisory and is subject to change without notice – please keep yourself updated via newsmedia outlets as the ongoing U.S. government shutdown situation can change in nature at any time.
The United States government has been officially “shutdown”, which means about 800,000 employees — about a third of the federal workforce — are being forced off the job in the first government shutdown in 17 years, suspending most “nonessential” federal programs and services. But what impact will the government shutdown have on departments within the U.S. government that are associated with the U.S. immigration process? Below is a brief summary of the effect the government shutdown will have on U.S. immigration.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS, except for E-Verify, will be operating. This means that the local field offices will continue to schedule INFOPass appointments, adjustment of status interviews, naturalization (citizenship) interviews, and issue emergency advance parole. The USCIS service centers will continue to accept petitions (family and employment based) and they will continue to accept phone calls through their customer service phone lines.
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR): Immigration Court functions that support detained caseload will continue, but other functions are suspended. Thereby, all non-detained cases have been suspended. So, if you have an upcoming master hearing or individual hearing and you are not detained, then your case has been temporarily suspended and a new hearing will have to be scheduled when the immigration court resumes operations. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is processing emergency stay requests as well as cases where the alien is detained, including case appeals, motions, federal court remands, and bonds.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): ICE detention and enforcement operations shall continue. ICE chief counsel will only work on “detainee” dockets during the shutdown.
Department of Labor (DOL): The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC’s website, including the iCERT Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts.
Department of State (DOS): The Department will continue as many normal operations as possible; operating status and available funding will need to be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be continued. Visa issuance will be available in consulates that have adequate funding to continue operating.
Customs and Border Patrol (CBP): Inspection and law enforcement are considered “essential personnel,” though staffing may be more limited than usual. The borders will be open, and CBP is unsure of how the shutdown will affect the processing of applications filed at the border at this time.