News & Insights

How does a federal government shut down affect immigration agencies?

By Miroslava Orduño Rincón
January 19, 2018

Unless lawmakers come to a last-minute agreement, the U.S. government will shut down at 12:01 AM on Saturday, January 20, 2018. The last such Federal shutdown occurred from October 1-16, 2013. A Federal government shutdown results in a stoppage of all budget-funded and “non-essential” services.

So how would a shutdown affect the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)?

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has provided a helpful summary drawn from information related to prior shutdowns.

"USCIS: USCIS is a fee-funded agency with the exception of E-Verify, so if the government shuts down, only E-Verify shuts down. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and "life or death" emergencies.

CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered "essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

DOL: The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC's web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold."

As four years ago seems like an eternity and things change rapidly in our current political climate, this is only a best guess. We will of course provide relevant updates as we receive them.

Original post on Miroslava's LinkedIn Pulse blog - follow her here.


About Miroslava ...

Miroslava Orduño Rincón’s practice focuses on immigration and nationality law and leads the firm's Immigration and Nationality Law practice group.

Miroslava has extensive experience with U.S. non-immigrant and immigrant petitions for large international corporate clients in the Automotive OEM and Aerospace industries. She additionally processes outbound visitor and work visas, family-based petitions, and naturalization.

Prior to attending law school, and while pursuing her legal studies, Miroslava served for 11 years as an immigration paralegal. She is a native Spanish speaker, and has extensive facility in the French language. 


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