The United States government has officially shut down. There are many reasons why that happened, but I bet a lot of people will blame immigration…which is in a way funny since most immigration services won’t be impacted by the shutdown. Why? Because most immigration services are fee-based. The fees you pay for your forms go to the adjudicator’s salary – it’s not tax-payer driven like many government services.
The guidelines below should help you sort through the news and chaos, but be sure to verify with your attorney or with the agency directly before making any assumptions about your particular case.
USCIS: All interviews and biometrics will go on as planned. All pending cases will continue to be worked on. The only USCIS service that should be impacted is E-verify, which will not operate during the shutdown.
ICE: ICE will continue to detain and deport. ICE attorneys, though, will likely focus on detained cases during this time.
Immigration Court: The courts’ detained dockets are generally considered an essential function and should continue to operate. During the last shutdown, courts continued to accept court filings, even in non-detained cases. Call the automated hotline at 1-800-878-9180 if you have a hearing scheduled during the shutdown to verify if it will take place.
DOS: Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted, but staffing may be. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will likely only handle diplomatic visas and “life or death” emergencies.
CBP: Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open. You shouldn’t feel any impact at the airport.
USCIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman will be closed and isn’t accepting any inquiries through its online case intake system.
Just when it seems as though things can’t get any crazier with immigration or in politics, this happens…