Law Offices of Stuart J. Reich, PLLC

Practice Limited to Immigration & Nationality Law

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New York, NY 10004

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Government shutdown – Impact on Immigration

Different US government agencies may behave differently in terms of ongoing operations during the current government shutdown. Essentially, a government agency will generally need to cease work if funded by appropriations – but there are exceptions for certain vital agencies, and law enforcement agencies are normally considered vital.

A brief summary follow, by agency:

  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services - USCIS is funded primarily through user fees. Therefore, it won’t processing applications. However, certain applications may be impacted which require a predicate application from an agency that IS impacted, such as the Department of Labor
  • US Customs and Border Protection – As an enforcement agency, CBP will remain operational though funded by appropriations.
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement – ICE is funded by appropriations, but is a protected law enforcement agency and so will still be operating
  • Immigration Courts – These are closed, except for a few which will apparently remain open for urgent deportation/removal matters.
  • US Department of Labor – The DOL does use appropriations for funding rather than user fees. However, a separate appropriations bill had passed earlier funding the agency through September of 2019, so for the time being the DOL will continue processing. If this stops it would impact processing of Labor Condition Applications for H-1Bs, PERM Labor Certifications, and Prevailing Wage Determinations.
  • US Department of State, Including Consulates – Visa petitions, both immigrant and nonimmigrant, are fee based and so will continue to be processed at least for the time being – however, the State Department has indicated that this may later change. Passport Service for US citizens are also fee-based and are expected to continue.

There is one caveat with regard to government operations which are expected to continue during the shutdown: some of the relevant offices may be located inside government buildings with other, appropriations-based funding sources and so may need to close if the buildings housing them close.

We will provide updates as more is known.