Government Shutdown and Effects on Immigration

Photo Source: CNN

Washington, DC–Day one of the government shutdown, and immigration agencies across the U.S. have not been excepted from furlough. Here is a breakdown of how this development affects pending immigration cases, petitions, and applications:

USCIS: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) overall will continue operating as usual as the agency is funded by filing fees and not government funds (98% of personnel will remain on the job). The exception to this is E-Verify. As a government funded program, it will not be accessible to businesses or U.S. citizens. However, the USCIS Office of the Ombudsman will suspend its operations until the shutdown is resolved. Thus, pending inquiries and requests for assistance to the Ombudsman will be placed on hold until the federal government reopens.

CIS Ombudsman: The CIS Ombudsman’s Office will be closed and will not be accepting any inquiries through their online case intake system.

DOL: Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) functions are not “excepted” from a shutdown and its employees are placed in furlough status. Consequently, OFLC will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC’s web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts.

DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges will be unable to perform any case-related activities, including conducting hearings. Hearings that have been previously scheduled will therefore be cancelled prior to the date of the hearing, and they will not be rescheduled for hearing until an appropriations bill or continuing resolution takes effect.

DHS: Due to the lapse in federal, DHS’s website will not be actively managed.

DOS: The Department will continue as many normal operations as possible; operating status and available funding will need to be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be continued. Review their“Guidance on Operations” for more information.

EOIR: Court functions that support the detained caseload will continue, but other functions are suspended. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is processing emergency stay requests as well as cases where the alien is detained, including case appeals, motions, federal court remands, and bonds. Please review their notice for more information.

ICE: From ICE Community Outreach – ICE detention and enforcement operations shall continue. ICE chief counsel trail attorneys will still work on the detained docket only during a shutdown. Please coordinate with your local Chief Counsel Office on more specifics. The ICE Community and Detainee Helpline will remain operational.

USCIS: All USCIS offices worldwide are open and individuals should report to interviews and appointments as scheduled. E-Verify is currently unavailable due to a government shutdown. Please see their notice for policies implemented due to E-Verify’s unavailability.

Summary of Government Services:

Source: AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11040730 (posted Oct. 1, 2013),


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