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How might a government shutdown affect immigration?

You may have heard recently that the government is facing another possible shutdown. This can mean many things for each individual government agency and department, because each one operates a little differently. Also, under a government shutdown, there are still "essential workers" in most agencies who would still continue to work. Even though Congress narrowly avoided a shutdown a few weeks ago, the news is already talking about another potential shutdown soon. So what might that mean for immigration issues?

If you are currently applying to immigrate to the United States for employment, many of those services would continue to be available, primarily because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded in large part through the fees it collects from users. However, some aspects of an application require the cooperation of other departments, such as the Department of Labor (DOL), which may shut down entirely. Similarly, some agencies may technically continue operations, but if the office is located in a building that does not continue to operate during the shutdown, then services may stop for a time.

On the other side of the issue, deportation proceedings would only probably continue for people who are already held in federal custody, and even those would only persist for a few days. Most or all other deportation operations would probably freeze for the remainder of the shutdown.

Of course, it remains to be seen exactly how a government shutdown may affect these processes. If you have immigration concerns, it is always wise to enlist the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you keep you rights secure and protect your future.

Source: Mondaq, "Potential Government Shutdown: Immigration Consequences For Employers And Their Foreign National Employees," Jason E. Burritt, Michelle Gergerian and Dawn M. Lurie, April 23, 2017

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