Congress passed a bill on December 7 that funded the U.S. government until December 21. On or before December 21, Republicans and Democrats have to come to an agreement over many issues and programs that have to be funded for the next Fiscal Year. Among them, hot immigration issues such as funding for The Wall, a southern border wall that will prevent illegal immigration, the Regional Center EB-5 program, E-verify, the Conrad 30 waiver program, and the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker program are up for debate. At this time, it is impossible to know whether or not a compromise will be reached before the 21st and the actual consequences of a shutdown should it happen, however, based on the previous few times the government has been shut down, it is likely that the following services will be affected:
International travel will not be affected for non-citizens travelling with a valid visa or travel document. CBP are considered to be essential government personnel and necessary for national security and will not be affected.
Visa holders who are travelling internationally to renew a visa while abroad, the shutdown can delay the return to the States. Visa issuance and consular interviews will likely be suspended with very limited exceptions. These exceptions only include humanitarian emergencies. Visas usually take around 1 to 3 business days to be issued, therefore individuals with interview appointments as soon as December 17 can be affected. Interviews on or after December 21 may be cancelled or severely delayed. These services will only resume after the government has reopened, which, depending on the wait time, can create a backlog of appointments, delaying the process further.
USCIS and Department of Labor
The Department of Labor was funded through the year in September, any application with them, including labor certifications applications (PERM) and Labor Condition Applications, should still be processed after December 21.
USCIS is a fee-based operation therefore should not be affected by any funding decisions. USCIS, in the previous years, have been open even when the rest of the U.S. government shuts down. However, should the current administration request that USCIS close, services will also stop.
Impact on EB-5
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. The Regional Center program is slated to expire on December 21 if it is not renewed. If the government is shut down, applicants will on longer be able to apply for the Regional Center program. Non-regional center EB-5 applications will still be accepted.
Similarly, H-1B petitions under the Conrad 30 J-1 Waiver program for physicians and petitions under the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker program will be suspended during the shutdown.
Services for United States citizens domestic and abroad are considered to be essential and will not be affected.
Currently, there is no definitive answer of whether the government will shut down and what the effects of the shutdown will be. Should the parties fail to reach an agreement, the shutdown will occur at midnight on December 22.
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