What Happens if the Government Shuts Down?
AILA Doc. No. 17042640 | Dated December 17, 2018
December 17, 2018 UPDATE: Congressional
negotiations on federal spending for the remainder of FY 2019
remain very active. If Congress and the President can’t come
to an agreement on a spending bill or continuing resolution by
midnight December 21, 2018, approximately 25 percent of government
functions will shut down. When it comes to immigration, agencies
that would be impacted by a government shutdown include the
Department of Homeland Security and its
immigration-related components (CBP, ICE, USCIS, CIS
Ombudsman), the Department of Justice (EOIR), and the
Department of State. See below for information as
to how these agencies operated during prior shutdown periods. We
will update this page with additional information from the agencies
as it becomes available.
Note, however, that the Department of Labor
(DOL) would not be impacted by a government shutdown. On
September 28, 2018, President Trump signed a minibus appropriations
bill funding DOL through the end of September 30, 2019.
January 22, 2018: Generally, if the government
shuts for budgetary reasons, all but “essential”
personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.
USCIS: USCIS is a fee-funded agency so if the
government shuts down, it is generally business as usual. The
exception to this is those programs that receive appropriated funds
– E-Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center
Program, Conrad 30 J-1 doctors, and non-minister religious workers.
As announced by USCIS on January 20, 2018, those programs may be
suspended or otherwise impacted. Note that while USCIS has not yet
confirmed how cases will be processed post-shutdown, in 2013, USCIS accepted late I-129 filings provided the
petition was submitted with evidence that the primary reason for
failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status
request was the government shutdown.
January 21, 2018 Update: USCIS has confirmed
that DACA renewal processing will continue.
January 22, 2018 Update: USCIS confirmed that
myE-Verify services are unavailable, including
myE-Verify accounts, Self Check, Self Lock, Case History, and Case
Tracker. USCIS also confirmed that E-Verify is unavailable, which means that
employers will not be able to access their E-Verify accounts and
Customer Service is closed. USCIS implemented temporary policies during
the shutdown, including suspending the “three-day
rule,” extending the time in which employees may resolve
Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs), and confirming that employers
should not take adverse action against employees due to an interim
case status during this time.
DOS: Visa and passport operations are
fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations,
but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely.
If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only
handle diplomatic visas and “life or death”
CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel
are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be
open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may
ICE: ICE enforcement and removal operations
will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the
detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange
Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded
EOIR: Immigration court cases on the detained
docket will proceed during the lapse in congressional
appropriations while non-detained docket cases will be reset for a
later date when funding resumes. Courts with detained dockets will
receive all filings but will only process those involving detained
dockets. Courts with only non-detained dockets will not be open and
will not accept filings.
DOL: The OFLC would cease processing all
applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel
would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries.
OFLC’s web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be
inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.
CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS
Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through
its online case intake system.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.