The current government shutdown is both confusing and concerning, especially for those working for the federal government or receiving federal benefits. When it comes to immigration matters, the shutdown only affects certain processes.
The following are the frequently asked questions about immigration cases and the government shutdown:
Question: Can I still apply for immigration benefits?
Answer: Yes. USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) offices are still open during this time and accepting immigration petitions. The agency stated that the shutdown has no effect on fee-for-service activities, meaning appointments and interviews will continue according to the schedule.
Q: I already filed a petition. What happens next?
A: Filed petitions will still be reviewed as scheduled and move forward regardless of the shutdown.
Q: I scheduled a fingerprint appointment this week. Should I go?
A: Yes. Biometric processing centers are also open during the shutdown, just like other USCIS offices. If you fail to attend your fingerprint appointment, your case may experience a delay.
Q: I scheduled an interview. Will it go forward?
A: Yes. Your interview should still occur on the scheduled date. The USCIS says all offices throughout the world are still open to conduct interviews.
Q: Will the E-Verify program still be operational?
A: No. During the shutdown, it is not possible to create an E-Verify case, enroll in E-Verify, take action or view a case, edit any accounts, terminate accounts, reset passwords, run reports, or resolve TNCs (tentative nonconfirmations). While an E-Verify case is pending, USCIS warns employers to not take adverse action against affected employees.
Q: Which immigration programs are not in operation during the shutdown?
A: Besides the E-Verify program, other programs that are not in operation during the shutdown because of a lack of continuing funding are Conrad 40 J-1 program for physicians, EB-5 immigrant investor regional center program, and non-minister religious worker visas.
Q: Is ICE still active?
A: Yes. ICE will continue to operate and detain those who violate federal immigration laws. In addition, the ICE Community and Detainee Helpline is still open.
Q: Are immigration courts open?
A: The immigration courts throughout the United States are only open for urgent deportation cases. So, if you have scheduled a hearing for an immigration case other than urgent deportation matters, it will be postponed. However, this doesn’t mean you should remain alert and prepare for your hearing.