What does the government shutdown mean for immigration services?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2019 | Citizenship

We are now more than three weeks into the partial government shutdown. Whether you’re applying for your green card or looking to renew your passport for your upcoming vacation abroad, you might be wondering how this shutdown is impacting immigration services.

In today’s post, we outline what is, isn’t and could be impacted.

Protected programs

The federal government has announced that “essential” services will remain operational. These mainly include services related to law enforcement and the protection of federal property. In addition, the following federal programs are “safe” from the shutdown:

  • Programs that already have government-allocated funding
  • Programs that operate on a fee-based system–and are thereby self-sustaining

Most of the programs connected to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fall under one of the above two categories–and are therefore unaffected by the shutdown. However, some services are temporarily suspended.

Suspended programs

The following programs currently do not have funding to operate. They will not be in service until the shutdown ends:

  • E-Verify
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program
  • Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors
  • Non-minister religious workers

Safe for now

In addition, some programs have the means to operate currently–but if the shutdown continues over the long term, these programs could face suspension:

The Department of Labor has funding through September 30, 2019. From an immigration perspective, this funding allows for the processing of Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and PERM Labor Certification Applications through this date.

Consular visa- and passport-processing services are currently in operation–although some reports suggest these services may be slowed down. These services are fee-based, and therefore should be self-sustaining. However, the State Department has suggested that the viability of this program during the shutdown may be in question. It stated that such services “will remain operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations.”

The partial government shutdown impacts a broad range of people and services. We will continue to monitor the situation–as it impacts immigration–and post any updates on our blog.



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