Published:  October 7, 2013

With no end in sight for the ongoing government shutdown, many wonder how federal government agencies performing immigration-related functions will be impacted for the foreseeable future.  Below is a summary assessment:

Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/CIS):  In general, business as usual.  DHS/CIS primarily operates by way of “fee for service” funding, and thus is not affected by a lapse in annual appropriated funding.  That is, most of DHS/CIS’ functions are funded by way of filing fees supplied by applicants and petitioners.  So, green card and citizenship interviews and decision-making will continue without interruption.  However, the implementation of the additional biometrics steps ahead of certain interviews at CIS Chicago, known as “Customer Identity Verification”  or “CIV, continues for naturalization applicants, but has yet to be finalized for permanent resident/adjustment of status applicants.

“E-verify”, the system DHS/CIS operates to allow registered employers to verify their employees’ eligibility to be employed in the U.S. is OFF-LINE during the government shutdown.

All USCIS offices worldwide are open for interviews and appointments as scheduled.

U.S. Department of State (DOS):  Although funded via budget appropriation, DOS will continue “normal” operations as it carries out essential functions.  Scaled down operations will follow any decrease in funding – a likely scenario if the shutdown persists.  Passport and overseas consular processing of U.S. visas at U.S. embassies and consulates will continue, as will critical services for overseas U.S. citizens

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL):  As the government shutdown persist, the U.S. Department of Labor will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses) when it comes to immigration-related filings, such as Labor Condition Applications (in support of H-1B work visa filings), Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (all essential initial filings for many, if not most, employment-based immigration filings).

Case status information on pending filings will not be accessible via usual online portals.

Further, it has been reported that overnight courier services have been unable to deliver to DOL.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Operations, including the processing of foreign nationals arriving at Ports of Entry nationwide, will largely remain uninterrupted.  However, approximately 6,000 CBP positions, mainly technicians and support staff, are affected by the funding lapse.

U.S. Department of Justice/Executive Officer of Immigration Review (the agency overseeing removal proceedings): Immigration Court operations for courts conducting removal proceedings for detained foreign nationals will continue uninterrupted.  For non-detained individuals in removal proceedings, court will not go forward, and hearings during the shutdown will be suspended, and continued for a later date.  The Immigration Court will continue to accept filings on behalf of detained and non-detained individuals.  The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is only processing emergency stay requests, and like the first level immigration courts, only reviewing the appeals and court filings of detained foreign nationals.


PUBLISHED October 7, 2013 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2013, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois