The federal government has shut down operations considered “non-essential” as of October 1, 2013, because Congress has failed to authorize adequate funding for the government. This will affect some immigration cases immediately. If the shutdown continues for an extended timeframe, it will likely have more extensive effects. For now, here is some important information:
- The downtown Denver immigration court is closed for business. All hearings set for these days while the government is shut down are being cancelled, and respondents should receive notices to reschedule their hearings at a later date. It is important to follow this closely to be sure not to miss your hearing when the hearings resume. The consequences of missing a hearing can be extreme.
- The Aurora immigration court for detained respondents is open for business, and all hearings will go forward as planned.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Denver and across the country will continue adjudicating applications and holding interviews for most types of cases.
- The U.S. Department of State (DOS), which is in charge of processing visa applications abroad and other important immigration functions, is continuing operations as normally as possible at this time.
- The Department of Labor (DOL) has stopped processing labor certifications and providing prevailing wage determinations at this time. Certain employment-based immigration cases still at the DOL stage will be delayed.
- E-Verify, the automated employment eligibility verification program for businesses, is not functioning at this time.
- Ports of entry to the United States are open and Customs and Border Protection is still operating, but its website is not being updated.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue detention and removal operations. Some of its other functions will be placed on hold.
Please note this is not a comprehensive list, and the situation is rapidly evolving. Agencies are making new determinations about how to handle the shutdown on a daily basis.
There are signs the shutdown could be prolonged by Congress’ entrenched, opposing positions on the Affordable Care Act and other issues, and its lack of incentive to find common ground.