What Immigration Agency Really Needs the Shutdown to End?

As the government shutdown continues—with no signs of ending soon—you might be wonder what impact the shutdown will have on your petition or application.

Let’s look at how the shutdown affects or may affect some immigration-related government agencies.


The lapse in funding does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities, you may hear. This means that USCIS offices will remain open. And all interviews and appointments will go on as scheduled. Further, this means USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications, with some exceptions.

The government shutdown is freezing out a lot of government employees, making them feel like the ship in Caspar David Friedrich’s 1824 painting “The Sea of Ice.” What will this mean for your immigration petition or application?

One exception relates to non-minister religious workers. (There is a special-immigrant category that allows non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate or adjust to permanent resident status in order to perform religious work.)  The authorization for the non-minister special-immigrant program has lapsed. USCIS (and US consulates) will not accept permanent residence applications under the Non-Minister Religious Worker Program until Congress reauthorizes the program.

Another impact, while not immediately obvious, is that significant processing delays may occur if a case’s adjudication depends on support from government functions suspended. For example, a processing delay may occur if a case’s adjudication depends on the issuance of a security clearance from an agency that is hamstrung by the shutdown.

Department of State

Congress has not yet passed legislation to fund the Department of State for the current fiscal year. Nonetheless, you may expect US consulates to continue processing visa applications while the filing fees are available to fund consular operations. However, if a shutdown is very long and the fee-based funding dries up, the State Department may suspend visa processing.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor is not affected by the shutdown, because Congress passed legislation to fund the agency’s operations for the fiscal year.