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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawVisa NewsWill Government Shutdown Impact the US Visa Process?

Will Government Shutdown Impact the US Visa Process?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the Government shutdown and the Immigration process; the process of obtaining visas to the United States. 

I have had questions here in recent weeks regarding the so-called "Trump" Shutdown depending on which side of the political divide you are on. As far as I'm concerned, I am pretty non-partisan on all of this. I just look at it from immigration standpoint. 

The question often gets posed to me “How is this going to impact the overall process?” Well as of the time of this video, it doesn't look like there's going to be a great deal of impact from the shutdown directly at this time. However, the longer the shutdown progresses, the longer it goes on, it could have an impact on how Immigration petitions are processed and how visa applications are processed through the Immigration apparatus. 

So a couple of things. This is from USCIS, uscis.gov.  The title of the announcement is “Lapse in Federal Funding does not Impact most USCIS Operations”.  Quoting directly, ”The current lapse and annual appropriated funding for the US government does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities. Our offices will remain open and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications for benefit requests except as noted below." I am going to truncate this. "Some USCIS programs however will expire or suspend operations or be otherwise affected until they receive appropriated funds or are reauthorized by Congress." So to paraphrase the rest of this "EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, E-verify, Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 Medical Doctors, Non-minister religious workers.” So anybody that may fall under those categories, there may be an impact that will be had by the lapse in funding that is occurring as a result of the recent government shutdown.  

Now over to Department of State which has a very active role in the visa process, specifically the National Visa Center and the US Embassies and US Consulates abroad which process US visas, for example here in Bangkok, Thailand, we process many K-1 fiancée visas, marriage visas such as the K-3 or the CR-1 or IR-1 categories.  The Embassy here processes a fair number of those along with non-Immigrant visas such as tourist visas, J-1 visas which I mentioned before for exchange visitors to the United States, F-1 student visas for example. All of these are going to be processed by Department of State, and many others for that matter.

That being said, there was a recent announcement put out on December 22nd, 2018 on travel.state.gov. “Emergency Alert December 22nd, 2018.  Operations During a Lapse and Appropriations”.  Quoting directly, "At this time, scheduled passport visa services in the United States and at our US Embassies and Consulates overseas will continue during the lapse and appropriation as the situation permits." Now it's my understanding that Department of State at least for visa purposes as well as I believe Consular functions such as passport issuance, is fully funded up until I believe October of this year 2019 so I don't think this is going to have a great impact on the processing of cases.  That being said, as funds are spent and resources expended as time goes on and the shutdown draws further out, there could be problems in processing cases at Embassies and Consulates abroad. It remains to be seen specifically what those problems can be.  As of the time of this video I have personally been down to the Embassy to deal with some matters on behalf of clients and there wasn't any issue that I particularly saw with respect to the functioning and the operation of the post. But as time goes on I don't know how this can impact the overall functioning of these institutions.

It remains to be seen as I said I think we have months before this is going to be a major problem and we will keep you posted on this channel with further videos as things progress.