January 11

The Irony Of The Government Shutdown For Immigration Law

The policy disagreements over border wall funding as a solution to a broken immigration system continue crippling U.S. immigration courts. Here are three areas affected the most.


The E-Verify system was set in place to prevent immigrants from working illegally in the United States is “currently unavailable due to a lapse in government appropriations.” This means that employers cannot make E-Verify queries or resolve possible non-confirmations that would otherwise ensure work eligibility of their prospective hires.

However, if employee eligibility cannot be confirmed in E-Verify due to the government shutdown, no adverse action can be taken. Employers will not be penalized for the E-Verify shutdown as long as they fully comply with the laws and file cases in the system when it becomes available. At the same time, employers are expected to stay in compliance with Form I-9 dates and deadlines.

The Backlog

Currently, there is an unprecedented backlog of 800,000 immigration cases. Due to government shutdown courts are only hearing just over 5% of those cases.

The shutdown adds processing time to the already backlogged system. Cases that have spanned over several years will continue to be kicked down the pipeline without any specified hearing date. As a result, applicants cannot plan their future as they are held hostage by the policy-makers. The uncertainty of the immigration policies causes anxiety and fear among those who use proper legal channels to enter the United States.

EB-5 Regional Centre and Conrad 30 Waiver Program

If the shutdown continues, the EB-5 Regional Center and several other USCIS immigration programs could expire in the absence of legislation extension. Congress has to reauthorize the EB-5 Regional Center Program in order for USCIS and U.S. Consulates abroad to keep accepting permanent residence applications.

Additionally, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program must also be reauthorized in order for the Department of State and USCIS to continue processing J-1 waivers of the two-year home residency requirement for foreign medical doctors that have received state recommendations.

Until the U.S. government reaches a solution, people who are seeking to enter or remain in the U.S. legally remain at the mercy of politicians.

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