As of December 22, 2018, the Federal government began a partial shutdown. 25% of government functions are shut down and non-essential personnel are being furloughed. In immigration law we deal with government agencies daily, including the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS), EOIR, the Department of State, and the Department of Labor. Although the shutdown was partially caused by an immigration issue – the debate raging around President Trump’s proposed border wall – the shutdown will only effect certain aspects of your immigration process.
To start with some good news: USCIS is a fee-funded agency, so they will continue processing applications and conducting interviews as usual. For employment and family-based applicants, most submitted petitions will continue processing without interruption. Please continue to attend your biometrics appointments, interviews, and naturalization ceremonies!
However, USCIS programs that receive appropriated funds will be suspended indefinitely. These programs include E-Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, and others. USCIS will continue to receive EB-5 I-526 forms, and related I-485 forms to adjust status, but will put a hold on processing all regional center-related I-526 and I-485 forms for an undetermined amount of time. If you have filed an I-829, Petition to Remove Conditions, your petitions will not be affected.
The Department of State is also fee-funded so visa and passport operations at global consulates should not be interrupted by the government shutdown. EOIR immigration court will continue hearing detained docket cases, but non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date after the government has been reopened. And finally, the Department of Labor was not affected in this partial shutdown, as they received funding through September 2019.
Be sure to consult with your experienced Immigration Attorney to properly navigate this puzzling time in immigration law. Call or contact us today to book a consultation!