Well this fortunately does not happen very often, but as of writing this on September 27, 2013, it is very possible the US government will shut down as of October 1, 2013 without an affirmative act by Congress to do something.
What is Happening?
In a nutshell, Congress has the “purse” authority and thus, makes financial decisions about government spending. It must pass laws each year to spend or appropriate funds for the government to function. This is usually referred to as an Appropriations Bill. The government runs on the October 1st to September 30th financial year. The House of Representatives, dominated by the Republican Party, has decided not to approve a Senate-approved appropriations bill unless the House and Senate vote on separate bill to essentially de-fund the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare,” passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the current president in 2011. Without the House approving the bill, there is no law and thus no way to continue funding the US federal government.
My Immigration Case is Pending – Am I Affected?
All federal government agencies that are relevant to immigration-related activities have delineated what functions will be considered “essential” and what functions will be shut down if no funding arises:
USCIS (US Citizenship & Immigration Services) states that it will be fully operating but for E-Verify operations (I-9 Compliance). However, a slowdown in processing would be anticipated if any lack of funding continued.
US Dept of Labor that handles foreign labor certification and prevailing wage work will shut down meaning prevailing wage and PERM applications will stop being adjudicated.
US Dept of State will shut down all consular processing – the processing of temporary and permanent visas – unless an emergency. The National Visa Center is unknown at this point.
CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) will be working, but reductions will take place making international travel more inconvenient burdensome.
EOIR (Immigration Court) will be shut down, but as of today, Denver Immigration Court will be open on October 1, 2013. It is unknown what status will be after October 1, 2013.
My Immigration Case is Done – Am I Affected?
It depends. If you need to travel internationally and obtain re-entry then you should expect delays at the border. If you need to obtain a visa abroad, then you will definitely experience delay because only emergency consular services will be available.
Please stay posted for the status of the appropriations stand off to determine if you do plan to internationally travel or if you have an application pending with one of the agencies above that indicate little or no services pertaining to immigration. Please call Catherine Brown, immigration lawyer in Colorado for further information on the Government’s Shutdown or Furlough problems.
For further information, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/2013-shutdown-federal-department-impact/