On December 22, 2018, President Trump refused to sign a bill to fund the government because it did not include border wall funding. As a result, a partial government shutdown is now in effect. Some of the agencies that are impacted include the Department of Homeland Security and its immigration-related components (CBP, ICE, USCIS, CIS Ombudsman), the Department of Justice (EOIR, or immigration court), and the Department of State (U.S. Embassies and Consulates and the National Visa Center).
Below is an explanation of how each agency is impacted:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The government shutdown does not affect most of USCIS’s fee-funded activities including processing petitions and applications for benefits, except for the following programs:
• EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program
• Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors
• Non-minister religious workers
USCIS offices will remain open and individuals should attend all scheduled interviews and appointments.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Ports of entry will be open, however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted. The CBP website will not be actively managed during the shutdown. Transactions submitted via the website might not be processed and inquiries will not be handled.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
ICE enforcement, removal, and investigation operations will continue during the government shutdown. The website, however, will not be actively managed during the shutdown. Transactions submitted via the website might not be processed and inquiries will not be handled.
The CIS Ombudsman’s office provides individual case assistance with USCIS. The CIS Ombudsman website will not be actively managed during the shutdown. Transactions submitted via the website might not be processed and inquiries will not be handled.
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) (Immigration Court)
Detained docket cases will proceed as scheduled. Non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date after funding resumes. Immigration courts will issue an updated notice of hearing to respondents or their attorneys for each rescheduled hearing. The shutdown will add to the growing backlog of 768,257 cases, a 49 percent increase since January 2017, when President Trump took office, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).
Department of State (DOS)
At this time, scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas will continue during the government shutdown as the situation permits. The National Visa Center, National Passport Information Center, and Kentucky Consular Center will still accept telephone calls and inquiries from the public.
Department of Labor (DOL) Not Impacted
The DOL is not impacted by the government shutdown. On September 28, 2018, President Trump signed a minibus appropriations bill funding the DOL through the end of September 30, 2019. Thus, the OFLC national processing centers and the iCERT System are open and operating as normally scheduled, therefore, there is no impact to H-1B Labor Condition Applications or PERM Labor Certifications.
*Please read our January blog regarding the 43,000 Immigration Hearings Cancelled due to the Government Shutdown