We are three weeks into the government shutdown since December 21, 2018 and the following is an update on different immigration agencies and services.
Visa Applications Overseas
Consulates are still processing visa applications as normal. Consulates and the Department of State are currently being funded by visa fees, however a prolonged shutdown can deplete these funds causing the State Department to suspend or limit visa processing. Foreign nationals should consider submitting an application and making a visa appointment as soon as possible to ensure timely processing.
Visa applications that require security clearances are subject to longer than usual delays if the clearance requires input from other government agencies affected by the shutdown.
E-Verify was one of the programs that needed to be renewed with the new funding approval. With the government shutdown, E-Verify is offline. USCIS has suspended the usual E-Verify deadlines which required employers to complete E-Verify for all new employees within three days of hiring. No adverse actions will be taken against employers while the system is down. Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification remain in place without change.
EB-5 Regional Center Program
Along with E-Verify, the Regional Center Program has expired with the shutdown. The EB-5 program, also known as the Million Dollar Green Card, allows investors to obtain a green card if they invest either $500,000 or $1,000,000 in business or projects that will create 10 full time jobs. To learn more about the program, please click here. At this time, USCIS has confirmed that it will continue to accept regional-center affiliated Form I-526 visa petitions and Form I-485 adjustment of status applications based on I-526 approvals, however these applications will be placed on hold until the program is renewed.
Form I-924 Applications for Regional Center designation will be not accepted and any applications pending as of the shutdown date will be placed on hold until the program is renewed.
Permanent residents with an approved Form I-526 applying for Form I-829 petitions to remove conditions will not be affected and will continue to be adjudicated.
- USCIS is a fee-based agency and applications and petitions for immigration and non-immigrant benefits have not been affected.
- Department of Labor has been fully funded since September 2018 and all applications and certifications with DOL have not been affected. The recent iCert system shutdowns are technical malfunctions and were not caused by the shutdown.
- CBP are considered to be essential personnel for national security reasons and have not been affected by the shutdown. Eligible applicants applying for TN and L visas at ports of entries can continue to do so. CBP are also accepting I-94 correction applications at deferred inspection sites.
- Social security, driver’s license, and ID processing have not been affected.
Applicants can expect there to be longer wait times for all applications once the shutdown is over caused by the backlog of incoming applications.
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