Congressional negotiations on federal spending for the remainder of FY 2019 remain very active. If Congress and the President can't come to an agreement on a spending bill or continuing resolution by midnight December 21, 2018, approximately 25% of government functions will shut down.
When it comes to immigration, agencies that would be affected by a government shutdown include the Department of Homeland Security and its immigration-related components (CBP, ICE, USCIS, CIS Ombudsman), the Department of Justice (EOIR), and the Department of State.
The Department of Labor (DOL) would not be affected by a shutdown this year. On September 28, 2018, President Trump signed a minibus appropriations bill funding DOL through the end of September 30, 2019.
Generally, if the government shuts for budgetary reasons, all but "essential" personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.
USCIS: USCIS is a fee-funded agency, so most business will continue as normal. Exceptions are -Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J-1 doctors, and non-minister religious workers.
DOS (Department of State): Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and "life or death" emergencies.
CBP (Customs and Border Protection): Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered "essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be affected.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement): ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.
EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review): EOIR's detained docket is typically considered an essential function and would therefore continue to operate. During the 2013 shutdown, EOIR continued to accept court filings, even in non-detained cases.
DOL (Department of Labor): The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC's web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.
CIS Ombudsman: The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.
For any questions about how a shutdown would affect you or your employees, call Elaine Martin, Dallas immigration lawyer.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.