Government Shutdown in 20th Day
By Sarah E Blackwell, Jan 11 2019 09:07PM
Government shutdown continues with no end in sight. How does this affect people with immigration cases? That depends on what kind of immigration case someone has or wants to start.
Ironically, the shutdown has almost completely closed immigration courts across the country. The only immigration courts that are open are those handling cases of people who are being held in detention. Detained cases represent a minority of immigration court cases.
For people who are in removal proceedings but not in detention, the immigration court is still accepting filings (applications for relief, motions, etc) but will not be making decisions until the court re-opens unless there is a specific urgency, e.g. a stay of removal to prevent deportation.
People scheduled to appear in court in the next week will have their court appearances re-scheduled. For those who were scheduled for a trial, this could set your trial date back by 2-3 years because of the current backlog.
USCIS is open for business as usual because it is not funded with taxpayer dollars. It is funded through the filing fees that people pay when they submit their applications.
If you are thinking about filing an application, there is no need to delay.
Although USCIS will remain operational, there may be delays in making decisions. This will occur when a particular application requires input from another government agency that IS affected by the shutdown. The best example is the criminal background checks done for USCIS by the FBI.
The US consulates are part of the Department of State. The shutdown may lead to delays with issuing visas (both immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas).