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17th March 2011
How Would a Government Shutdown Impact The U.S. Immigration Process?
Posted by : admin
In recent months the likelihood of a government shutdown seems to be increasing as the politicians in the United States capital seem to be more polarized than ever. Meanwhile, some are arguing in favor of a shutdown (even going so far as to advocate for an extended period of governmental closure). At the same time, others argue against a shutdown. Regardless of one’s opinion either way, it seems possible that a shutdown may occur, and in the event that a shutdown does come to pass, those processing an immigration matter may be prudent to research the impact that a shutdown might have upon the immigration process.
The next month will be marked by intense negotiations on the debt ceiling, and the GOP will then have to decide on a shutdown or a bipartisan budget deal with Kent Conrad and his allies.
The above citation most clearly and concisely sums up the current state of affairs regarding the possibility of a government shutdown. The administration encourages readers to click on the above links as this issue is quite complex. Those interested in understanding the ramifications of a government shutdown may be best informed by this administration quoting directly from Wikipedia:
A government shutdown occurs when a government discontinues providing services that are not considered “essential.” Typically, services that continue in spite of a shutdown include police, fire fighting, armed forces, utilities, air traffic management and corrections.
A shutdown can occur when a legislative body (including the legislative power of veto by the executive) cannot agree on a budget financing its government programs for a pending fiscal year. In the absence of appropriated funds, the government discontinues providing non-essential services at the beginning of the affected fiscal year. Government employees who provide essential services, often referred to as “essential employees”, are required to continue working.
Although the above citation clears up the issue of what constitutes a government shutdown, the question likely on the mind of those with foreign loved ones processing through the immigration system is: how would a government shutdown impact the processing of my loved one’s visa? The answer: a Federal government shutdown would result in a sort of “freeze” of most of the immigration apparatus as this falls within the bailiwick of the Federal government. Therefore, a Federal shutdown would likely result in little, if any, action being taken with regard to adjudication of visa applications at each US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. For further insight it may be best to quote directly from a recent posting on the Diplopundit blog:
In 1995, all visa applications are walk-in. Today, a good number of consular sections have online appointment systems. Which means, visa appointments will have to be canceled and rescheduled if there is a shutdown. Consular sections may only be open for life and death emergencies. That means lost passport applications, reports of births abroad, adoption cases, notarials, etc. will all have to wait until the Federal government reopens.
The administration of this blog highly encourages readers to click on the above hyperlinks as the quotation above was found in a very interesting and detailed posting dealing with these issues.
Clearly, the ramifications of a government shutdown will be severe for those awaiting processing of a visa application. Meanwhile, it would appear as though USCIS will continue to operate as normal despite a possible shutdown. To quote directly from the website Martindale.com:
USCIS has announced that, because it is funded by filing fees, it should remain open during a government shutdown. The operations of the four Service Centers should remain largely unaffected. Local USCIS District Offices should also remain open.
Again, this blogger highly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to learn more.
Notice that the above quotation uses the word should. This blogger only points this out as it goes to show how difficult it is to foretell what the impact of a government shutdown would be on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) since that agency has attempted to remain self-funded through application fees. That said, the overall issue of government shutdown has yet to fully manifest itself, but that should not be construed to mean that it will not. In fact, those seeking American visas are likely to see an overall slowdown in the overall processing of cases as a result of a shutdown (should one actually occur, which remains to be seen).
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