Many federal offices and services have been shuttered due to the government shutdown. Around 800,000 to 1 million federal employees have been furloughed and government offices and national parks have been closed. However, immigration agencies may not be impacted by this shutdown.
The US Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will operate during the shutdown. Employees working in the above mentioned agencies who are considered “essential” will be working. A very small number of employees have been subject to furloughs.
USCIS will operate and the agency will continue to process Green Card applications. The government shutdown will not affect the USCIS. USCIS, the immigration agency is self-funded and the fee the agency charges, covers 95 percent of its budget. But E-Verify, that the US employers use to check whether the employees they hire are authorized to work in the country, will not be operating.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that handles immigration enforcement, will be operating. Most of the employees at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will not be subject to furloughs. Out of the 59,561 CBP employees, 52,673 will continue to work.
The US Department of State (DOS) will continue to process US visa applications. Just like the USCIS, this agency is also funded by the fee it collects from the applicants and it is not federally funded. Though the US DOS will be operating, visas to the United States will be delayed. US Consulates and Embassies abroad will not be closed.
At the same time, immigration courts will remain open. But petitions for political asylum may not be processed immediately and could be delayed. According to the reports, these courts have enough funds to remain open for around ten days after the government shutdown.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) will operate, but some employees will be furloughed. Immigration attorneys believe that new H-1B filings will be delayed.
This shutdown will affect the US citizens and non US citizens who use government services. Veterans will have to wait for a long time for their pensions and disability benefits. Applications for loans filed by small business owners will be delayed. However, the immigration system will hardly be affected by the government shutdown.