As of the third week in January 2019, the U.S. Government is operating only “essential” services. Is the government shutdown affecting your immigration case?
Who’s Open for Business?
Currently, the shutdown affects the Department of Homeland Security and its agencies, the CPB, ICE, USCIS; the Department of State; the Department of Justice and the immigration court system; and E-Verify. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are typically “essential” services and continue functioning for the most part.
Other government agencies are still operating because Congress funded them through September 2019, in a separate bill. Unfortunately, Congress did not include many of the agencies that perform immigration-related functions in that funding bill.
Is the government shutdown affecting your immigration case? Yes
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
The application fees that immigration petitioners pay when they file a case are supposed to fund the agency’s workload. In theory, USCIS should have funding to process applications when applicants pay a fee.
So far, USCIS has accepted applications and cashed checks for filing fees that my clients have paid. However, I do anticipate that it will take USCIS longer to process these cases. USCIS programs that are not operating right now, because funds to operate the programs must come from Congress are:
The E-Verify and related supporting systems are off-line and not functioning. This is the system through which employers verify whether an employee is authorized to work in the U.S. Without a functioning system, U.S. businesses are unable to verify and hire workers, disrupting ordinary operations throughout the U.S.
The Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program is not staffed during the shutdown.
Conrad 30 Progra
Doctors working in rural areas, seeking J-1 waivers through the Conrad 30 Program cannot obtain waivers necessary to change their immigration status after their program ends. If you need to file for a waiver, here’s another example of
Department of State
U.S. consulates abroad are reporting that E visa company-registration appointments are on hold at the Frankfurt, Germany consulate. Possibly more consulates will stop this and other services as the shutdown continues. Passport applications and visa appointments for
Executive Office of Immigration Review
The Court Administrator has ordered immigration judges to hear only cases involving detained individuals in the Dallas immigration court.
Department of Labor
Although President Trump signed an appropriations bill to fund the DOL through September 2019, the computer system for iCert, which is essential for filing H-2B applications has been down.
Be Aware of When Your Status Expires
Business visa holders whose status expires during the shutdown, face additional anxiety and uncertainty. They may be unable to timely obtain an extension or change of status, leaving them without status or working without authorization. Previously, applicants had to submit evidence that the government shutdown was the primary reason they could not file an extension-of-stay or change-of-status request on time.
Contact Me Before Filing With USCIS
Before filing any immigration-related family or business application, consult with an immigration attorney to understand the effect of the government shutdown. And, I recommend making an appointment with me before making decisions involving your immigration status personally, or through your employment. Feel free to contact me at 612-805-8626 or through email.