Government Shut-Downs and Your Immigration Case: What You Need to Know

Government Shut-Downs and…
While the government shutdown has been pushed back to mid-November, the possibility of the government pausing operations is still present. When the government shuts down, “essential” employees are required to keep working, many government programs and departments pause operations until a new funding bill can pass Congress. As you will see, many people’s immigration cases will be unaffected, but others will have theirs paused until an agreement can be reached.
1. What is a government shut down?
All government operations cost money and what programs or departments get is determined by Congress. Some departments depend entirely on what Congress decides to appropriate each year, while others are funded by other means.
2. Immigration Court
If you have an open case in immigration court and are not detained, your case will be paused and possibly rescheduled if your hearing happens to be scheduled during a shut down. If your case is at a court that also handles cases for people who are detained, you can continue to file documents with the court. However, the court will not process them, or add them to the record, until after the shutdown ends. If you case is at a court that does not have any detained cases, the court will close and will not accept new filings.
If you, or someone you know, is detained, their immigration court proceedings will continue as normal.
3. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS is mostly fee-funded meaning that the majority of the agency will not be affected by a shutdown. Some programs such as E-verify, Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program, among others, rely on Congressional appropriations and could be affected. These can change with each possible shutdown because sometimes programs are funded by other bills.
4. Department of State – Consular Activities
State Department programs, such as passports and consular processing of visas, are fee-funded. However, it is possible that fees will not completely cover operating costs for certain posts which may cause a temporary reduction in services offered.
5. Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE)
ICE will continue to operate and enforce immigration laws, including removals. ICE attorneys will focus on cases for people who are detained.
6. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)
Majority of operations will be unaffected. People will continue to be able to enter the United States and of ports of entry will remain open. Some applications that are filed with CBP at the border could be delayed.
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