As Congress continues its budgetary deadlock, the possibility of a government shutdown looms larger by the minute. If Congress is unable to reach accord today, the government will close at midnight, Saturday April 9.
In general, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but "essential" government are furloughed and not allowed to work. So what does this mean for immigration agencies?
Department of Labor: DOL is making plans for a possible shutdown. If there is a shutdown, DOL personnel will not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. We do not know at this point whether iCERT/PERM would continue to function. However, because the systems require funding to run, we assume that they would not be available.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services: An USCIS official stated at a recent meeting that USCIS (other than the human touches on E-Verify) would not need to shut down, since the agency, other than E-Verify, is funded by fees. However, it is not clear that this is the case, and at least one local office has indicated that it is working on its shutdown plan. We will update as we get more information.
Department of State (US Embassies/Consulates): If there is a shutdown, the result for DOS will likely be the same as it was in the 1996 government closing. Then, the only visa issuance being done was for some diplomats and for "life or death" situations. DOS' view is "a really, really important business meeting is not life or death."
Customs and Border Protection: Inspection and law enforcement are considered "essential personnel," though staffing may be more limited than usual. The borders will be open, and CBP is unsure of how the shutdown will affect the processing of applications filed at the border.