As you may have heard by now, Congress’s failure to pass a spending bill triggered a partial government shutdown in the country. The House and Senate were not able to pass a federal government-funding bill by Saturday midnight over President Trump’s insistence to include $5 billion for the construction of his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The news of the partial government shutdown is both confusing and alarming, which is evident from the number of emails and calls from concerned Americans and immigrants alike here at Familia America. Luckily for you, our Salt Lake City family immigration attorney is answering those calls and emails in the heart of the holiday season.
Many of our clients wonder how the partial government shutdown might affect their immigration case. And while you may be in the middle of decorating your house and Christmas tree for the holidays, it is highly advised that you stay informed about the government shutdown’s impact on immigration processes during the holidays.
USCIS announced closure of its offices
On Friday, December 21, in anticipation of the partial government shutdown, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that its offices will be closed on Monday, December 24. The immigration agency cited President Trump’s declaration that all federal departments and agencies would be closed on that day.
All naturalization and citizenship ceremonies, interviews, and appointments set for Dec. 24 would be rescheduled by USCIS. Applicants and immigrants who were affected by the closure of federal departments and agencies will be informed of the rescheduled dates. However, USCIS closing its offices on Monday is no big deal. After all, it’s Christmas.
Government shutdown’s impact on immigration processes
As for the government shutdown’s impact on USCIS, most of the agency’s day-to-day work will be continued as normal. As you may or may not know, the partial government shutdown in 2018 will not affect the continued employment of “essential” federal workers.
The operation of federal programs that have already been sufficiently funded by the government or are fee-based and self-sustaining will not be affected by the government either. Our green card attorney Salt Lake City explains that the vast majority of all immigration-related programs fall into the latter two categories, which means the government shutdown’s impact on immigration processes will be insignificant, unless the shutdown lasts a “very long time,” as vowed by President Trump in one of this recent tweets, according to NBC News.
For example, the Department of Labor (DOL) has secured funding through September 30, 2019. Given that USCIS is a fee-based immigration benefit provider, the federal agency is expected to continue its operations despite the shutdown.
How the government shutdown might affect your immigration case
But our experienced family immigration attorney in Salt Lake City warns that some USCIS programs operate based on appropriated funds (i.e. E-Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Central Program, etc.), which means they could be suspended during the government shutdown.
It is also reasonable to expect a slowdown or even cessation of some services at U.S. Consulates and the U.S. State Department, especially those related to visa processing.
However, our Salt Lake City green card attorney at Familia America says you will still be able to file a petition for immigration status despite the government shutdown. That’s because immigrants applying for immigration status adjustment or other benefits pay fees to file their petition or application, which means these services will not be affected by the shutdown.
What to expect during the government shutdown as an immigrant?
If your fingerprint appointment is scheduled for this or next week, our family immigration lawyers warn that your appointment could be rescheduled due to the holidays. As mentioned earlier, USCIS announced that its offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 24. If your appointment or interview is scheduled on that day, you will be informed of the rescheduled date.
As for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency’s detention and enforcement operations will continue despite the partial government shutdown. Also, unless you are part of an urgent deportation case, most immigration courts will be closed during the partial government shutdown in 2018 through 2019.
Schedule a consultation with our Salt Lake City family immigration lawyer from Familia America to learn about how the government shutdown might affect your particular immigration case. Call our offices at 801-656-9605 today.