Much of the U.S. Government is closed for business because Congress and the President have failed to enact legislation authorizing spending to continue effective October 1, which is the first day of the fiscal year. How will this impact visa processing in China?
U.S. Department of State–Consular Operations: Operations that are funded other than annually (e.g., on a 2-year schedule or through fee-for-service) will continue. “Consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations,” says the Department. Such consular operations include both visas and American citizen services at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, as well as U.S. Consulates in Shenyang, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The Embassy says, “All consular operations in China, including visa and American citizen services, will continue normal operations during the U.S. Government shutdown.” Yet the Department says they’re unsure how exactly how long their funds will last.
U.S. Department of State–National Visa Center: Processing of immigration visa applications at the NVC will likely continue, as those functions are funded by contract and not a direct federal appropriation.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: All USCIS offices worldwide are open, according to the agency. Petitioners and applicants should report to interviews and appointments in Beijing and Guangzhou as scheduled. Much of USCIS activities don’t depend on Congressional spending legislation because they are performed on a fee-for-service basis. However, there may be some delays in adjudication because USCIS relies on other agencies to perform some of its services.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection: CBP officers at airports and other ports of entry will continue to screen travelers as usual. This is because “they have been deemed law enforcement necessary or necessary for the safety of life and protection of property,” according to CBP.
Federal Bureau of Investigations: Although the FBI website states that “in the event of a government shutdown,” criminal history summary checks “will not be processed,” still channelers say checks are being processed normally.
Social Security Administration: SSA is not accepting or processing applications for Social Security numbers or replacement cards during the shutdown. Foreign nationals who are unable to obtain an SSN may not be able to apply for a U.S. driver’s license, open a bank account or obtain other benefits.
Travel and tourism: According to The Guardian, national parks and monuments are closed, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the National Mall and the Statue of Liberty. Federal air traffic controllers will remain on the job and airport screeners will keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints, though some airports have warned of delays at security. Federal inspectors will continue enforcing safety rules.
Meanwhile, there seems to be little hope for breaking the government funding impasse any time soon, so the government shutdown may continue.