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How Is the U.S. Government Shutdown Affecting Immigration Services?

When the people of the United States celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21st, the partial shutdown of government services had entered its fifth week. Thanks to a private donation from Delta Air Lines, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta had enough operating funds to open on the holiday, but it was a painful reminder of the underlying reason for the political impasse that created this situation. 

Immigration policy is at the heart of the partial government shutdown. President Donald Trump claims construction of a wall along the border with Mexico will alleviate many socioeconomic and national security issues. Quite a few lawmakers, particularly those in the Democratic Party, don’t believe in the border wall project, especially when it comes with an initial price tag of $5.7 billion. This situation will eventually be resolved, but it’s important to note how immigration services, including San Diego immigration services, are being impacted by the shutdown.

Customs and Border Protection

Although Border Patrol agents have been busy during the shutdown because of large migrant groups from Central America arriving to request asylum, more than 5,000 Customs & Border Protection support employees are either furloughed or working without pay, which means technical issues related to the Admissibility Review Office may not be solved for the time being.

E-Verify Website

This crucial aspect of employment verification and compliance is closely related to immigration services, and it stopped operating in late 2018. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis appears to support an initiative requiring employers in all industries to use E-Verify, but state lawmakers opposed to such a move are refusing to debate the matter until they see the online platform operational again.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program

New EB-5 interviews are on hold during the partial shutdown because they’re normally conducted at the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Centers around the country. The Citizenship and Immigration Services processes of reviewing new Forms I-526 and I-485 haven’t been affected, although a backlog has been reported because of furloughed support staff. Any petitions that require payment of hefty fees will still be processed because the government makes revenue projections based on them. It’s important to note that Trump administration restrictions on H-1B nonimmigrant employment visas for skilled workers has prompted many prospective applicants to turn their attention to the EB-5 program, which is the most affected by the shutdown because interviews have been suspended.

Federal Immigration Courts

The federal court division that handles immigration cases, including deportation and removal proceedings, has cancelled thousands of hearings during the shutdown. Immigrants whose legal status in the U.S. has been challenged will have to wait until the shutdown is lifted. Those who are detained will have to seek exceptions once the courts are operational, and they may have to file complaints with other divisions to seek relief.

The government shutdown could end at any moment, but immigrants and their families may be dealing with the effects of ever-growing administrative backlogs for a long time to come. If you have questions about the current status of immigration services and how you may be affected, contact trusted immigration attorneys in San Diego who have vast experience with every aspect of immigration law. KS Visa Law is the firm to turn to when you need the most up-to-date information about immigration law. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

August 2019
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