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How Does the Government Shutdown Affect the U.S. Immigration System?

December 24th, 2018

You may have heard that the US government is in a partial shutdown. Most federal agencies depend on the government for funding. If Congress and the President don’t agree on a budget for the next year, the government “shuts down” and “nonessential” functions are paused until a budget is agreed upon.

While this is certainly frustrating for many, the good news is that your immigration case will unlikely be affected. To confirm this for you, here is an overview of the different federal agencies that potentially could be impacted in some way by a lack of funds.

Let us know if you have any questions or concerns about how the government shutdown will affect your immigration case. Our number is (503) 427-8243.

TSA and International Flights: Thankfully, international travelers will still be able to fly into the U.S. and the Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) will continue their very important work during the government standoff. Similarly, the failure of the government to come to agreement on finances won’t affect the essential safety mission of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to keep planes safe.

Ports of Entry and Customs and Border Protection (CBP): All U.S. ports of entry will remain open and CBP officers will be grilling visitors as usual. Keep in mind, however, that if you are applying for a TN visa or L visa at the Canadian border, there will likely be delays in processing time along with increased scrutiny of applicants.

Social Security Cards from the Social Security Administration (SSA): Unfortunately, the SSA stops processing applications for social security numbers during a federal government shutdown. This has a direct impact upon the ability of foreign nationals to work and receive driver’s licenses in most of states of the U.S. (since most DMVs require social security numbers before issuing driver’s licenses).

USCIS and the NVC are funded by applicant fees and therefore should not be significantly impacted by the government shutdown. However, there might be a slight delay in processing times due to low staffing levels. Also, note that the e-verify program is affected by a lack of funds and so e-verify services will be suspended during the shutdown.

Department of State (DOS): Overall, visa processing at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad will likely continue, but past experience with earlier shutdowns indicate that we should all expect delays. If you have an appointment scheduled at consulate abroad, continue to plan to attend. But unfortunately all new appointments will likely be delayed by additional weeks. Also note that U.S. citizens who are hoping to apply for or renew a passport will also experience delays that correspond to the length of the shutdown. Passport processing will stop due to the shutdown.

Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns!