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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawUS Immigration LawHow Does Government Shutdown Impact the US Visa Process?

How Does Government Shutdown Impact the US Visa Process?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, as the title suggests, we're going to be discussing the government shutdown and specifically how it could impact the US Visa, or the processing of us visas or US Visa processing.

So as an Immigration Attorney, I am a member of what’s called the American Immigration Lawyers Association. It’s quite a nice organization; I am quite a fan of it frankly. It's a very nice resource and it allows for Immigration Attorneys to network and frankly Immigration Law is a vast body of very technical yet narrowly enforced set of laws;  it's kind of novel in the world of jurisprudence. But a recent sort of informational guide if you will, that AILA provided, provided basically threw out some things with respect to how is the process going to be, and I'm not reading this verbatim but it's just  sort of as a point-by-point note, “How is the process going to be impacted in the event of a shutdown?” For most folks, with respect to US Immigration, especially in a family context which is primarily what we deal with over here, at least in my office, is things like fiancee visas, marriage visas, the CR-1, or the IR-1, visas for children of American citizens. For most of those folks, and even for certain kinds of Investor Visas, Employment based Visas that are of an investment, an investment bent, so things like the E-2 Visa for Investors in the United States, or the EB-5, this process isn't going to be overly, or I should say dramatically impacted by this recent shut down but there are some things that could happen. First of all let me start where I need to start. United States Citizenship and Immigration Service is essentially funded from the fees for the applications and petitions filed therewith, so they aren't really going to be impacted by this. They are going to continue operating because they have their own revenue stream. Moreover, visas and passports at US Embassies and US Consulates abroad have fees associated with them, so there's an independent revenue stream associated with visa and passport issuance. That being said, at the Embassy level, the Department of State level, government shutdowns could be an issue with respect to whether or not there is enough funding to maintain certain generally expected threshold in order to process the visas through that Embassy or Consulate. So although visa application fees do go toward paying things like salary and overhead associated with the Embassy, it may or may not cover everything and due to certain regulations or due to certain protocols, if there gets to be a funding gap that may widen out where there is no longer enough money coming in from that specific revenue stream associated with the visa, say the visa processing itself, there may come a point where they may have to shut down the Consulate or the Consular Section issuing, the immigrant visa unit or the non-immigrant visa unit, depending on circumstances. I have personally seen a Government shutdown pretty heavily, adversely impact visa processing. I can't remember exactly how long ago it was. There was a shutdown in 2013, but that shutdown in my opinion was rather mild compared to what the shutdown that came before it and that was due to the fact that it's my understanding that the Department of State began doing, taking measures to provide sort of reserve funding with respect to its operations and in 2013 there was a shutdown. If things had gotten much worse I think you would have seen further problems but ultimately Embassy functions didn't fundamentally change. The shut down before that though,  I remember that rather vividly, I was working over here in Bangkok and Yeah the Visa section  wasn't operating for a couple of days during the middle of that and it took a little while for everything to get back up on its feet and keep processing through. That being said, I mean, it doesn't adversely impact one's visa application, especially if the application is sitting with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, probably nothing will really change because those folks are still going to be working as normal. Again, I wouldn't worry too much about this in the opening days of a shutdown but, and this video is being made during the opening days of a shutdown, of this shutdown, if this shutdown becomes more protracted, I think it's fairly safe to say that Yeah monitoring of the situation is going to be pretty handy. Frankly I will probably do another video based on my experiences dealing with the US Embassy here in Bangkok. If there should be some substantive changes with respect to the circumstances under which visas, both immigrant and non-immigrant visas are processed as a result of the shutdown. It remains to be seen if or when that will happen. In my opinion I think it's way too soon to tell and I think it's also possible it may not happen at all but that being said, it could. If it does, we will provide an update by video on this channel.