There are has been an enormous amount of concern and confusion surrounding the current government shutdown, especially those who are federal employees or receive federal subsidies. While the main issue for the shutdown is immigration, specifically building a “steel wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border, most immigration processes remain ongoing.
The following blog post answers the most frequently asked questions related to the ongoing government shutdown:
Question: Is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) still active?
Answer: Yes. ICE will continue to detain individuals who have violated U.S. immigration laws and operate the ICE Community and Detainee Helpline.
Q: Am I able to still file an immigration petition?
Answer: Absolutely. It is possible to still file petitions for immigration status (e.g. citizenship, permanent residency, visa extensions, etc.) during this time. Offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) throughout the world are still open despite the government shutdown. All fee-for-service activities are not affected, so appointments and interviews should continue as scheduled. Even if you already filed a petition, it will continue to move forward and will not be left alone.
Q: I scheduled an interview with USCIS officials. What’s going to happen?
A: All scheduled interviews should still occur despite the shutdown. As we mentioned above, all appointments made by USCIS officials will continue as planned.
Q: Should I still go to my fingerprint appointment?
A: Yes. USCIS offices such as biometric processing centers are open. Failure to make your fingerprint appointment may result in a delay in your immigration case.
Q: Are immigration courts open?
A: Mostly no. The only time the U.S. immigration court will open is due to an urgent deportation case. If you were scheduled for a court hearing during the shutdown, your hearing will be postponed. Yet, it is crucial to continue preparing for your hearing and staying updated with what’s happening.
Q: Will the E-Verify program be operational?
A: No. It is not possible to sign up for E-Verify, take action on a case, create or delete an account, edit any user information, run reports, and resolve tentative nonconfirmations (TNCs). While an E-Verify case is pending, employers are encouraged not to take any adverse actions.
Q: What other immigration programs are closed during the shutdown?
A: Visas for religious workers who are not ministers, Conrad 30 J-1 physician program, and the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
Q: Are passport services still available?
A: Yes, but only for U.S. citizens. Passport services in the U.S. and throughout the world will be available.