January 19, 2018

How does a federal government shut down affect immigration agencies?

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.