During a government shutdown, many government functions come to a halt as thousands of non-essential government employees are furloughed. There are multiple government agencies involved in adjudicating immigration benefits and administering immigration law. These agencies are impacted by a government shutdown differently, depending on their funding sources and their various functions.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Because USCIS is self-funded through filing fees, it operates as usual even during a shutdown. Petitions and applications are accepted, interviews are conducted, and notices are issued. However, there are certain USCIS programs, such as E-Verify, that receive appropriated funds and are therefore unavailable until funding resumes.
Department of State (DOS): DOS visa and passport functions are also self-funded through application fees, and therefore should proceed during a shutdown. However, applicants may experience delays and even a suspension of visa services if the shutdown is protracted and consulate/embassy funds approach depletion.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR): As part of the Department of Justice, the EOIR relies largely on appropriated funds and its functions are limited during a shutdown. Courts will proceed with their detained dockets, and non-detained cases will be rescheduled once funding resumes.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The vast majority of CBP staff are considered “essential” and will therefore be required to work without pay during a government shutdown. Ports of entry will be open but there may be significant delays in processing any applications filed directly with CBP.
The Department of Labor (DOL): The DOL is funded entirely through appropriations, however it is not affected by the current shutdown as it is funded through September 2019. Labor certifications and prevailing wage determinations are therefore unaffected by the shutdown.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): ICE enforcement and removal operations will generally continue with agents going without pay. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices will also remain open as the SEVP is funded by fees.