What the U.S. Government Shut Down Means for Your Immigration Case

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January 17, 2019

By Julie Kruger

Many of our clients have contacted us with questions about what the U.S. Government shutdown means for their immigration case. Because the answer depends on the type of immigration case, it’s important to talk with a Buffalo immigration lawyer about whether your case is affected. Here is a breakdown of the various government agencies processing the most common types of business immigration and family immigration cases we see, and whether they are affected by the shutdown:


For family immigration and business immigration cases with Petitions and Applications processing through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are no changes. USCIS is a fee-based agency, similar to the Post Office. So even while the U.S. Government is shutdown, USCIS remains open and processing both family immigration and business immigration cases as normal. For example, the H-1B visa lottery, naturalization applications, and adjustment of status applications (or “green card” applications), are not affected by the shutdown.

Immigration Court

Cases pending before the U.S. Immigration Courts may be affected by the shutdown. It depends on whether your case is on the detained docket or not. If you are currently in removal proceedings before the U.S. Immigration Court in Buffalo, NY, you should contact a Buffalo immigration lawyer to determine whether your next Hearing before the Court will be held as scheduled.

Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is affected by the shutdown. However, because border officers are considered essential employees, they must continue to work even while not being paid. This means that the borders are open during the shutdown.

Business immigration cases like TN visa applications are being processed during the shutdown at designated ports of entry like the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY. So if you have a job offer and are considering applying for a TN visa, contact a Buffalo immigration lawyer to determine whether you qualify and where to apply during the shutdown. An experienced business immigration attorney can help you determine whether your job offer fits a TN visa category, and whether your education and experience meet the requirements for that TN visa category.

However, because the Admissibility Review Office is considered non-essential, ports of entry are not accepting waiver applications during the shutdown. If you are a Canadian citizen seeking a waiver of inadmissibility (Form I-192), a Buffalo immigration lawyer can help you determine whether you qualify and when to apply.

Department of State

Some family immigration and business immigration cases are processed with the U.S. Department of State at Embassies and Consulates around the world. Although the Department of State is affected by the shutdown, Embassies and Consulates continue to process both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applications and U.S. passport applications.

The Take-away

Is your case affected by the government shutdown? It depends. Contact an experienced Buffalo immigration lawyer today to discuss whether your business immigration or family immigration case can be filed and processed during the shutdown.

Conveniently headquartered in downtown Buffalo’s historic Cornell Mansion, Kruger Immigration Law concentrates its practice in family immigration, naturalization and citizenship, and business immigration for those looking to relocate to the United States of America. If you’re immigrating from Canada to USA, our team of skilled immigration attorneys can help you achieve your “Dreams Without Borders”.

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