What Happens to Immigration if the Government Shuts Down

If Congress and the President don’t reach an agreement on the budget by September 30, 2021, the government will shut down on Friday. That means all but essential government employees will be furloughed and not allowed to work. Consequently, many government services will be available.  Immigration services are generally not affected because they are funded by application fees, not tax dollars. 

Here’s a short summary of how some immigration-related government agencies have operated in the past during a shutdown and are likely to operate if a shutdown happens.

  • USCIS (citizenship and immigration services) generally continues operations because it is funded by application fees. However, there are some programs that receive government funds that could be suspended or limited,  such as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J-1 waiver program, E-Verify, and non-minister religious workers.  Also, the USCIS could accept late filed applications if the applicant shows that the reason for failure to file on time was the government shutdown.
  • CBP (customs and border patrol)  is primarily a law enforcement agency and most law enforcement CBP staff are considered essential.  Processing and entry of international travelers will continue, although some border applications may be affected.
  • DOS (Department of State) issues U.S. passports and is responsible for visa applications at U.S. consulates worldwide.  Visa and passport operations are generally funded by application fees and will likely continue uninterrupted.  However, consular operations can be affected at particular posts (countries) if there aren’t enough application fees to fund visa operations.  
  • DOL (labor department) processes labor certification applications for green card and H-2B applications, labor condition applications for H-1B and E-3 petitions, and other immigration related applications..  Because the DOL does not charge any fees for these applications, it will stop processing all applications until the shutdown is over.  Applications will be delayed.

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-494-8033, text us using our chat box, or complete our contact form.

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