Latest Update: The federal government shutdown has ended. On January 22, 2018, President Trump signed a short-term spending bill to reopen the federal government and fund it until February 8, 2018. Immigration-related services that were suspended are now back in operation.
On January 20, 2018, the federal government has shut down following Congress’s inability to reach a budgetary agreement. Generally, federal agencies that rely solely on government funding are suspended, and federal agencies that receive funding from fees or other sources continue to operate. The following explains which immigration-related services will be affected.
The Department of State (DOS)
Visa and passport operations are fee-funded. Therefore, DOS will continue to process such applications as long as sufficient funds are available to execute consular services. It is still yet unknown whether the upcoming Visa Bulletin will be affected.
The Department of Labor (DOL)
DOL’s immigration-related functions are not funded by fees. Therefore, DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification has suspended the acceptance and processing of prevailing wage requests, DOL Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), and Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (ETA 9089) until funding is restored. No new applications can be filed and pending applications will be placed on hold.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS’s operations are primarily fee-funded and will continue to operate. However, because USCIS relies on other government agencies to perform its services, certain systems will be suspended or limited. Notably, since DOL operations are limited, all USCIS applications that require LCAs, such as H-1B, E-3, H-1B1 petitions, and changes of employer, will be affected. The USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS), which includes E-Verify, will be non-operational.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
CBP will continue to operate as usual at U.S. borders and ports of entry because inspection and law enforcement are considered “essential.” It is currently unclear whether CBP officials will continue to process immigration applications, such as initial TNs or blanket L status submitted by Canadian nationals.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
ICE will continue its enforcement and removal activities. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), responsible for monitoring foreign students and their dependents to ensure rules and regulations pertaining to their student status are being followed, will likely not be affected by because it is fee-funded.
U.S. Immigration Courts
Most U.S. Immigration Court activities will be suspended. Courts are neither accepting new filings nor scheduling future hearing dates during the shutdown. The only cases to be heard during the shutdown are those involving detention, bond requests, removal orders, or voluntary departure.
CPG Immigration Law Group will continue to monitor these developments and publish more information as they become available. Call us at (415) 371-1800 to set up an appointment with an attorney to discuss your specific concerns. You can also subscribe to our blog to receive updates.