Effect of the Government Shutdown on Immigration Cases

Since the federal government shutdown commenced October 1, the government agencies affecting immigration have clarified what is open and what isn’t at least for the present:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration (“USCIS”) continues to operate despite the shutdown (USCIS is funded by filing fees rather than appropriations). All USCIS offices worldwide are open for interviews and appointments as scheduled, and the Service Centers continue to adjudicate both immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions. E-Verify is an exception, and is unavailable during the shutdown.
  • The State Department has stated that it will continue “as many normal operations” as possible until they run out of operating funds. For the present, consular offices continue to issue all types of visas, and passport offices remain open in the US. Should the State Department determine that they have exhausted available funds, they will likely cease issuing non-diplomatic visas until the government reopens.
  • The Department of Labor (“DOL”) Office of Foreign Labor Certification, which handles H-1b wage certifications, PERM prevailing wage determinations, and PERM applications, will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials during the shutdown. DOL online filing websites have been shut down, so new cases can’t be filed, and the status of pending cases can’t be checked.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) detention and enforcement operations will continue operating during the shutdown.
  • Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) has stated that all ports of entry will remain open, and inspection and law enforcement employees will continue to work during the shutdown.
  • The Immigration Courts are open, but only in connection with cases of persons held in detention. All other functions are suspended.
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