The federal government is now in partial shutdown due to a failure by President Trump and Congress to agree on how to fund the government. How does this impact key immigration agencies? During a shutdown, personnel funded by annual congressional appropriations are furloughed and not permitted to work. Exceptions are made for “essential” personnel. And the shutdown doesn’t apply to positions funder by user fees rather than annual appropriations.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS states that the agency will continue to operate as usual, including accepting and adjudicating immigration-related applications and petitions. Biometrics appointments and interviews continue to be scheduled. The reason USCIS personnel will continue working is that their positions are funded by user fees. (An exception is that E-Verify services are funded from the budget and will be suspended.)
Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman: The Ombudsman states that “Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted.”
Department of State (DOS): The agency states that “At this time, scheduled passport and visa services in the United States and at our U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas will continue during the lapse in appropriations.” Also, “The National Visa Center, National Passport Information Center, and Kentucky Consular Center will still accept telephone calls and inquiries from the public.” Nevertheless, past experiences with similar shutdowns suggest that any applications filed during this period may experience delays in processing. (For more on what happened during the Jan. 2018 shutdown, see here). So it’s advisable to plan ahead and apply early.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP):
- CBP officials operating ports of entry are considered to be “essential.” Ports of entry will remain open, and inspection of noncitizens seeking to enter the U.S. will continue.
- Global Entry appointments for enrollment are cancelled, according to a Congressional FAQ and applicant experiences discussed on the FlyerTalk message board.
- TSA PreCheck applications are being accepted, according to a Congressional FAQ.
Transportation Safety Administration (TSA): Flights should not be canceled for lack of TSA airport security officers.
Immigration Courts: The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) website states that non-detained docket hearings will be rescheduled for a later date after funding resumes.
Tax Transcripts: Need IRS tax transcripts for your immigration case? No luck. That service is shut down until further notice.
Security Checks: Adjudication of cases by USCIS and DOS rely on security checks completed by other federal agencies, such as the CIA and Department of Defense. Security checks may be delayed by the shutdown.
We are monitoring the effects of the government-shutdown and will send updates as we receive more news.