Immigration has been at the center of everything since the new White House administration took office in January last year. We have already seen several immigration policy updates and new laws affecting different aspects of the immigrant visas.
Everywhere there is only discussion and that is about the recent Government shutdown. The government remained shut down from midnight on Friday till Monday when a deal was reached by the parties. It is heard that the disagreement between the White House administration and the Democrat members on the immigration matters primarily concerning the legislative fix for the DACA beneficiaries was the prime reason for government shutdown.
It is true that one of the main reasons for this government shutdown was the difference of opinion on matters pertaining to Immigration. However, the other reason is also very crucial and it is regarding the spending bill. The members of the congress could not agree on the spending bill deal.
House Republicans passed a bill on Thursday to fund the government for four weeks and extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. But on a procedural vote late Friday, which needed 60 votes to advance the House spending bill, 45 Senate Democrats — and five Senate Republicans — rejected it because it didn’t include legal protections for young immigrants, shutting down the government.
The federal government officially reopened after the Congress passed a Senate agreement to continue current levels of government funding for three weeks.
The three-week funding bill also extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years and came with a handshake promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a Senate floor debate on immigration. Democrats were willing to shut down the government because Republicans had repeatedly punted on doing something about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Senate Republican leader McConnell's commitment to quickly tackle the issue of immigrant "Dreamers" was contingent on Democrats providing enough votes now for a stopgap spending measure lasting a little less than three weeks. The measure needed 60 votes, and Democrats provided 33 of the 81 it got. Eighteen senators, including members of both parties, were opposed.
A government shutdown means a lot of “nonessential” government activities suddenly cease.
During shutdowns, federal employees are split into “essential” and “nonessential” groups. Nonessential employees receive furloughs: They stop getting paid and are off work until the shutdown is resolved. Essential workers also stop getting paid, but they still have to work. Usually when a shutdown is over, federal employees are paid back the salaries they went without.
A shutdown usually suspends a lot of government functions. Though the military, air traffic control, federal prisons, and Social Security and other benefit payments typically aren’t affected.
It should be noted that USCIS charges fees for its services and hence all the services of USCIS are not impacted on account of Government shutdown.
However, the USCIS issued operations that would be affected due to Government shutdown: several USCIS programs will either expire or suspend operations, or be otherwise affected, until they receive appropriated funds or are reauthorized by Congress. These include:
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. Regional centers are a public or private economic unit in the United States that promote economic growth. USCIS designates regional centers for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program.
E-Verify. This free internet-based system allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
Conrad 30 J-1 doctors. This program allows J-1 doctors to apply for a waiver of the two-year residence requirement after completing the J-1 exchange visitor program. The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the United States; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely.
Non-minister religious workers. This special immigrant category allows non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate or adjust status in the United States to perform religious work in a full-time, compensated position.
USCIS has notified that their offices will remain open and all applicants should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled.
One thing to be noted is that certain USCIS operations are dependent on other government agencies. Like Department of Labor which is a part of procedure in H-1b visas and I-140 petitions.
However, no update has been received from the USCIS with regards to such operations.
We hope that a legislative fix is reached well before the next deadline in February 2018 and we do not face another shutdown.
Please visit www.emandilaw.com for latest news and updates on immigration.