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The Government Shutdown and its Effect on Immigration Services

On October 1st, the U.S. government shut down for the first time in 17 years as a result of a standoff in Congress over the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. The Republican-controlled House passed a spending bill that sustains the federal government’s spending levels but fails to provide any funding to implement Obamacare. Senate Democrats, on the other hand, demand that the program be fully funded. The shutdown will end as soon as Congress agrees on, and the president signs, a spending bill. Until then, keep in mind the following:

1. The Department of State will continue to run as many of their normal operations as possible at this time because they are almost entirely self-funded. Therefore, the DOS will continue to process immigration paperwork. Consulates will stay open, and the State Department will continue to process visas, but operations in certain buildings that are affected by the shutdown will be slower than usual.

2. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue their detention and enforcement operations. The ICE Community and Detainee Helpline will remain open.

3. USCIS will continue to operate and all USCIS offices worldwide will remain open. Individuals should report to appointments and interviews as planned. The USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) has been restored after a momentary lapse in service. However, E-Verify will not be available during the shutdown.

4. Border Patrol will continue to guard the border.

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