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How Does the Government Shutdown Affect Immigration

As the Speaker of the House further delays a vote on the budget thus prolonging the Government shutdown, so many people are directly and indirectly adversely affected. With regard to immigration, we are seeing profound negative consequences.

The immigration courts’ non-detained dockets are on hold. This means that immigration courts are closed during the shutdown with the exception of courts that deal with detained aliens in removal proceedings. The result is that hundreds of thousands, maybe more, people who are waiting to have their cases heard are stuck. These cases include political asylum, family-based visas, and waivers. While their cases are on hold, they are not free to travel to see loved ones, they remain without status and in some cases unable to legally work. The shutdown is putting a strain on an already overburdened immigration court system.

In terms of visa processing for those abroad, the processes will likely be suspended and the Department of Labor, who processes Labor Certifications for employment-based visas will similarly suspend processes.

Another potential casualty is immigration reform which was still picking up momentum with the latest development of the Democratic Party leaders of the House introducing their own immigration reform bill. If Congress stays mired in this budget battle and with the looming debt ceiling deadline, they may not have time to advance on immigration reform before their winter break in December which would likely result in a significant push back of immigration on the agenda.

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