Government Shutdown USCIS & EOIR Closures

Government Shutdown 2018

The US Federal Government shutdown (called the “federal funding hiatus”) has affected many aspects of the government, including the immigration infrastructure. The news media report on widespread closures.

USCIS reports on Government Shutdown:

“The current lapse in annual appropriated funding for the U.S. 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.”

However, our internal and external contacts report:

  • Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, is handling detained cases only.
    • Though we don’t know for certain, we’re guessing this is the case at many detention facilities across the country.
  • New York immigration courts are closed, and non-detained cases are being rescheduled.
    • Filing Window During Federal Funding Hiatus The reception window at 26 Federal Plaza will be closed to the public until the conclusion of the federal funding hiatus.  The only filings we will be accepting and processing at 26 Federal Plaza during the funding hiatus will be for the detained unaccompanied alien children docket.  If you have such a filing, please send it by mail addressed to Supervisory Legal Assistant Aaron Saran at 26 Federal Plaza, Room 1130, New York, New York 10278.  Clearly mark the outside of the envelope – “Detained UAC”. The Varick Street office will be open business as usual and only accepting filings and inquires for the detained docket at that location.
  • Ohio
    • During the duration of the government shutdown, the Cleveland Court will only be doing scheduled detained and bond hearings.  All non-detained cases will not be going forward and will be automatically re-scheduled.  One Judge is here along with, 4-Court staff (including [Bill Roder]) and 1-Attorney Advisor.  We will accept non-detained filings (stamp them in) but, will not be processing anything pertaining to non-detained cases.  It would be helpful for the attorneys not to file for non-detained cases unless they have a deadline to meet.  If anything major changes with the current plan, [AILA will be notified].
    • The Cleveland Immigration Court Filing Window on Superior Avenue is open.

USCIS also reports that,

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program expired at the end of the day on Dec. 21, 2018, due to a lapse in congressional authorization to continue the program.”

Further information may be found here.

E- Verify and E-Verify services are unavailable due to the lapse in federal funding. More info here. However, employers must continue to complete Form I-9 “no later than the third business day after an employee starts work for pay, and comply with all other Form I-9 requirements outlined in the Handbook for Employers (M-274) and on I-9 Central.”

Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors. … The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the U.S.; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely.”

Non-minister religious workers. … On Dec. 7, 2018, Public Law 115-245 was amended by H.J. Res. 143, extending the EB-4 non-minister special immigrant religious worker program through Dec. 21, 2018.” December 21, 2018 was the “sunset date” for this program.