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  • Posted on:  15 January 2019

What Immigration Services Are Available During the Partial Government Shutdown?

In our last article regarding the partial government shutdown, we addressed the effect of the shutdown on the EB-5 Investment Visa program. This article explains the shutdown’s effect as it relates to the broader issue of immigration as a result of departmental and program funding or lack thereof.

As we noted previously, the USCIS will continue to receive I-526 petitions, I-485 applications, and I-829 petitions for the ‘traditional’ EB-5 pilot program. I-526 and I-485 forms will be held, but not processed during the shutdown. I-829 petitions to remove conditions will continue to be processed.

The EB-5 Regional Center program has expired due to a lack of funding.

Essential vs. Non-essential and Fee-funded vs. Taxpayer-funded Services

Essential vs. Non-essential and Fee-funded vs. Taxpayer-funded Services

Generally, fee-funded agencies and services will remain operational. Agencies and services funded by government appropriations from taxpayer revenues will not be operational unless they are considered essential to government operations. Employees of essential taxpayer-funded services are required to work but will not receive paychecks until a spending bill has been approved.

Here is an agency by agency status report.

Department of Labor

Department of Labor

The Office of Foreign Labor Certifications, a division of the Department of Labor, will continue to process certification applications for H-2B applicants. Funding was appropriated for all Department of Labo operations on September 28, 2018. That funding has been approved through September 28, 2019.

The only foreseeable problem with labor certifications is that the number of applications received this year is three times more than the allowed number. In other words, two-thirds of the employer-submitted applications will be deferred or denied. Please contact our ACS Law Offices for more details.

Department of State

Department of State

The State Department issues passports and visas, which are fee-based services. Passports and visas should continue to be processed and delivered.

USCIS

USCIS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is fee-funded. However, a few elements of their operations are funded by appropriations. In addition to the aforementioned EB-5 Regional Center program, the E-Verify system, the Conrad 30 J-1 doctor program, and processing of non-ministerial religious workers are temporarily suspended.

Customs & Border Protection and ICE

Customs & Border Protection and ICE

Because these two agencies are law-enforcement services, they are considered essential. The focus of their work may narrow somewhat during the shutdown and processing of cases and documents could be affected adversely.

Executive Office for Immigration Review

Executive Office for Immigration Review

This office is responsible for processing immigration-related court cases. Only cases that apply to immigrants who are being held in detention centers. All other cases with be rescheduled at a later date. There are currently more than 800,000 cases pending. The average wait time for an immigration court hearing is 718 days.

It is entirely possible that, as each day goes by and the shutdown debate continues, the situation may not remain static. We will do our best to keep our clients and readers up-to-date.

We realize that the shutdown can cause frustration and anxiety for immigration applicants. We will do our best to keep you informed. Our ACS Law Offices, Inc. legal team advises and assists investment and work visa applicants. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have.

 

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