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government shutdown

How Will A Government Shutdown Impact Immigration Services?

Many people are worried about how a government shutdown will affect their immigration case. During a government shutdown for budgetary reasons, nearly 3/4 of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees (more than 185,000 people) would be required to continue working without pay. This includes law enforcement officers, analysts, investigators, and disaster response officials. In other words, the essential functions of DHS would continue to operate during a shutdown, but many employees would not be paid for their work. This could have a significant impact on the morale and productivity of DHS employees, and it could also lead to delays in processing immigration applications and other DHS services.

The Department of Homeland Security has released information about how a government shutdown will affect immigration-related agencies.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded by fees paid by immigration applicants. USCIS will generally continue to operate during a government shutdown with some exceptions, such as E-Verify. Visa and passport issuance are also fee-funded, so they will not be affected.

Important notes:

  • The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program is not expected to be impacted by a shutdown, as it is authorized until September 30, 2027.
  • The Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program is set to sunset on September 30, 2023, unless a continuing resolution (CR) or appropriations package is enacted before that date.
  • During a government shutdown, employers can continue to use the alternative document review process for remote Form I-9 verification if E-Verify is temporarily unavailable.
  • In the past, USCIS has accepted late I-129 filings if accompanied by evidence demonstrating that the primary reason for the delayed submission was the government shutdown.

During a government shutdown, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ports of entry will remain open, and inspection and law enforcement personnel will continue to work. However, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

This means that travelers can still expect to experience some delays when crossing the border during a shutdown, but they should be able to enter the country. However, those who are planning to file an application for immigration benefits at the border should be aware that there may be delays in processing their application.

During a government shutdown, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue to carry out enforcement and removal operations, but ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices will be unaffected, as SEVP is funded by fees.

In other words, ICE will continue to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants during a shutdown, but they may prioritize cases involving individuals who are already in detention. SEVP, which oversees the F-1 student visa program and the J-1 exchange visitor program, will continue to operate normally during a shutdown.

Are You Concerned About The Government Shutdown and Your Immigration Case?

If you are a non-citizen living in the United States or you’re concerned about the status of your immigration case, it is important to be aware of the potential impact of a government shutdown on your immigration status. If you have any concerns, you should contact an immigration attorney for advice.

Call Godoy Law Office Immigration Attorneys when you need an immigration attorney. The experienced immigration lawyers at Godoy Law Office offer assistance in immigration matters, including citizenship,  family-based visas, green cards and deportation defense. To talk to an experienced immigration lawyer, please contact our office at 630-345-4164.

AREAS WE SERVE: Godoy Law Office Immigration Lawyers helps clients in all 50 states and has 3 offices in the Chicago, Illinois area.

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