How government shutdowns impact immigration

It seems that in the current political climate, government shutdowns are an annual event. This leaves many of our clients asking: how does this impact our immigration case?

For this and any future shutdowns, we have created a general list of what is affected, and what maintains the status quo.

When the government is in shutdown mode, many government agencies are affected and people are told to stay home – without pay – and put on furlough (after previous government shutdowns, these people were paid retroactively for their time off work). All non-essential agencies are shut down ASAP.

But just how does the government shut down affect immigration proceedings, court cases, and agencies? Here is what happened during the Trump shutdown

1)USCIS –  business as usual
 The US Citizenship and Immigration Services are open, and not affected by the shutdown. “Applicants should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled”.

2)Department of State (DOS) –  business as usual 
While the website had a notice saying it wouldn’t be updated during the shutdown, the department was still active. The website said:

Note: Due to a lapse in appropriations, website updates will be limited until full operations resume.

3)US Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted, but should be business as usual otherwise. However, as with most agencies, processing through the website was not recommended.  The website notice stated:

Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed. This website was last updated on December 21, 2018 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted. As such, information on this website may not be up to date. Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted.”

4) US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Attorneys working on detained docket. Again the website notice warned against processing anything through the site.

“This website was last updated on December 21, 2018 and will not be updated until after funding is enacted. As such, information on this website may not be up to date. Transactions submitted via this website might not be processed and we will not be able to respond to inquiries until after appropriations are enacted.”


5)Department of Labor (DOL)

Website notice stated:

All U.S. Department of Labor offices are open. Employers and workers can call our National Contact Center for assistance.


6) THE BIGGEST IMPACT  IS:  Immigration Court limited to minors and detained cases. All other cases on hold until funding is enacted.

How long can shutdowns last?

During Clinton’s time the shutdown lasted for 21 days, President Barack Obama saw a shutdown of 16 days. It could be one day, it could be a month, it all depends on whether or not the factions can come to terms. The deadlock of the Trump shutdown obviously concerns immigration issues…

If you are concerned about your immigration case, or unsure of what to do, please give us a call at Harlan York & Associates and we will see if we can help.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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