What a Government Shutdown Means For You

Monday, September 30, 2013 - 4:30pm

As Congress was unable to overcome its budgetary deadlock, the U.S. federal government has been “shutdown” for the first time since 1995. Although several immigration-related agencies will be impacted not all branches of the federal government are closed. Below is a summary of the status of agencies involved in U.S. Immigration:

USCIS: USCIS overall will continue operating as usual as the agency is funded by filing fees and not government funds (98% of personnel will remain on the job). The exception to this is E-Verify. As a government funded program, it will not be accessible to businesses or U.S. citizens. However, the USCIS Office of the Ombudsman will suspend its operations until the shutdown is resolved. Thus, pending inquiries and requests for assistance to the Ombudsman will be placed on hold until the federal government reopens.

DOS: The State Department, which receives funding in the annual State, Foreign Operations and Related Appropriations Act, will be able to operate for a limited time. Additionally, activities carried out by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, both domestically and abroad, are also fee-funded and will continue operations. Passport operations and visa issuance overseas will continue, however, some passport offices located in federal buildings that may be forced to shut down due to a lack of building support services. Embassies and consulates overseas will also continue to provide American citizen services.

CBP: Inspection and law enforcement are considered "essential personnel," though staffing may be more limited than usual. The borders will be open, however, it is unclear how border processing may be impacted as this is for a benefit, not security based. Delays at airports should be expected.

DOL: All Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) employees will be placed in furlough status during a government shutdown. Consequently, OFLC will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC's web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts.

EOIR: All personnel who are not considered "essential" will be furloughed. The Immigration Courts will confine their operations to moving the detained docket forward. All non-detained cases will be continued until the federal government reopens.

Please contact the legal professional you work with at M+K for more information on how your case is impacted.