Congressional authorization for government spending is set to end Friday, January 19, 2018. To avoid a Federal government shutdown, Congress would need to pass a temporary or long-term spending bill before midnight.
If Congress is not able to pass a spending bill today, certain government agencies would temporarily close or reduce operations. Generally, non-essential Federal employees would be furloughed, but operations related to national security and law enforcement would remain active.
Here is what you need to know about how the shutdown would impact immigration-related agencies and offices:
Department of Homeland Security
USCIS: USCIS is funded by filing fees, so the USCIS is expected to continue to process immigration applications as normal. Some field offices have already issued statements indicating they will maintain regular operations.
E-Verify: Because E-Verify is funded by appropriations, it would not be accessible for the duration of the shutdown.
Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: CRCL would cease operations during a shutdown, and would not accept new complaints.
CIS Ombudsman: The Ombudsman’s office would shut down and its online case inquiry system would not be available for the duration of the shutdown.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement: As a law enforcement agency, ICE would continue to operate as normal. As mentioned below regarding the DOJ, detained removal cases would be considered essential functions, so ICE attorneys would continue work on the detained docket. SEVIS (ICE’s student and exchange visitor online system) is fee-funded, so it would continue to operate.
Customs and Border Protection: As a law enforcement agency, CBP would continue to operate as normal. There may be some delays in paperwork processing due to furloughs.
Department of State
Department of State visa and passport services are funded by application fees, but may be affected by shutdown. We recommend monitoring the status of specific offices or posts. We expect that the National Visa Center may continue regular operations in the short-term. However, visa operations at consular posts may be affected.
Department of Labor
The Department of Labor would be significantly impacted by a government shutdown. It is neither fee-funded, nor national-security-related. OFLC would close, and online DOL application systems would be unavailable.
Department of Justice
Immigration Courts: Immigration courts will likely be impacted by significant furloughs, including some immigration judges. However, detained cases are considered essential functions, and will continue to be processed. Non-detained operations may continue, but are likely to be impacted by significantly reduced staffing.
Federal Courts: The Federal Court system is reporting that it has three weeks of funding to continue normal operations. If the shutdown continues, federal courts are likely to stop work on civil litigation, except that certain time-sensitive cases may be allowed to continue.
Department of Health and Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement is likely to be significantly impacted by a government shutdown. Furloughs may cause delayed processing of detained children’s release to family members, or availability of post-release services.
Protracted Government Shutdown
If the shutdown persists for an extended period of time, additional furloughs may be required, federal buildings may be required to close, and employees who are not furloughed may encounter problems due to lack of access to facilities. Services at agencies previously not impacted may cease or experience significant delays.
Special Note regarding the Sunset of Non-minister Special Immigrant Program
The permanent residence program for non-minister religious workers will expire. USCIS will cease processing and accepting I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from non-minister religious workers after midnight January 18, 2018. We expect similar treatment for I-360 Special Immigrant Petitions filed on behalf of non-minister religious workers. U.S. Embassies/Consulates will also cease processing of immigrant (permanent residence) visas filed by non-minister religious workers and any non-minister religious worker with an approved immigrant visa must be admitted into the U.S. no later than midnight January 18, 2018.
Please note that this expiration DOES NOT impact the R-1 Religious Worker Visa (temporary visa) and it remains available for ALL religious workers seeking to enter the U.S.