Congress is preparing to break for the holidays, and it is apparent that the standoff over President Trump’s wall will result in a partial government shutdown. Unlike a full government shutdown, the current funding lapse only impacts certain aspects of the government. As of midnight on November 21st, funding expired for all non-essential employees in the federal government. This will impact nine different federal agencies and a vast number of governmental employees.
The partial government shutdown will also have an effect on individuals across the United States, including migrants, immigrants, and those seeking naturalization in California. Clients of immigration lawyers across the country are wondering, how will the government shutdown impact immigration services and cases? At Greco Neyland, we have the answer.
What Led to the Partial Government Shutdown?
At the center of the disagreement between Congressional Democrats, Republicans in the House of Representatives, and President Trump is interestingly immigration. While there aren’t any issues of immigration reform or immigration policy holding up funding approval in Congress, President Trump’s “wall” is the sticking point.
President Trump has stated that he would veto any spending bill that didn’t directly allocate $5 billion for the wall on the United States and Mexico border. The issue was hotly debated throughout the month of December. President Trump refused to back down, but It became apparent that President Trump didn’t have enough Democratic support in the Senate to pass a bill with the wall funding.
As the December 23rd deadline to fund the government approached, the Senate did pass a spending bill sans funding for the wall. It was expected that this bill would be passed in the House and signed by President Trump. It wasn’t. Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to bring any bill to the floor for a vote that didn’t include wall funding and President Trump remained committed to refusing any spending bill without wall funding.
What Is Impacted by a Partial Government Shutdown?
Currently, the lack of government funding only impacts nine federal agencies, but this could change as other spending measures expire. There are closures or spending freezes for all or part of the Department of Treasury, Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, Department of State, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, and Department of Justice. Not all parts and divisions of these nine agencies are shuttered, just their non-essential services.
There are other agencies related to the executive branch of the federal government that will also close or limit services during a partial government shutdown. For example, the Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services will suspend certain services and functions.
In reading this list, it becomes apparent that immigration services and immigration cases will certainly see changes and ramifications during a government shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and Department of Justice are all crucial parts of the federal government for immigration issues, particularly an immigration case or visa application. The question becomes: how drastically will immigration services and compliance be impacted?
How Could Your Immigration Issue Be Impacted?
The majority of agencies involved in immigration will not stop services during a partial government shutdown, including this one. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the United States Department of State, will remain entirely open and operational. This includes the review of visa and naturalization applications for foreign nationals interested in a student, employment, or entertainment visa.
One immigration program that will be deferred for the duration of a government shutdown is the E-verify program. While this is an optional program for participants and companies, certain government contractors are required to run the name and personal information of each new hire through E-verify before they can work on a federal project. This can hinder the hiring of foreign nationals and some United States citizens.
It is also possible that timeframes in United States embassies and consulates will be longer than usual. While these overseas offices will remain operational during a partial government shutdown, bureaucratic requirements and processes in the United States could slow down processing times. It is always best to request your visa or permanent residency interview well in advance of your intended arrival date, but more important in the upcoming weeks.
Finally, it is also possible that immigration courts could be slowed by the suspension of non-essential employees. As fee-funded parts of the government, courts and federal judges will continue to work normally, but staffing might be reduced. Even for immigration cases involving deportation and detention, dates, timing, and decisions on cases could be delayed.
Talk with an Immigration Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns over how the government shutdown may impact your immigration matter, it’s time to talk with an immigration lawyer. You can arrange a free initial consultation with an immigration lawyer in our California office by contacting Greco Neyland at (213) 295-3500.
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