Government Shutdown’s Continued Impact on Immigration
The government shutdown that began in December 2018 has become the longest U.S. government shutdown in history and is having some major impacts on immigration processing. Customs and Border Protection officers are considered essential staff due to the important role they play in national security at the U.S. border and ports of entry. This ultimately means that processing at ports of entry is occurring as usual. TNs and L-1 visas continue to be processed at ports of entry despite the shutdown, as officers are still adjudicating them. It is important to remember that while CBP officers are still working, they are not being compensated for their work at the present. Fortunately, they will be reimbursed once the shutdown ends, but it is still important to keep in mind when crossing the border and interacting with officers.
Unfortunately, other immigration-related areas are being impacted; specifically, the Admissibility Review Office. The Admissibility Review Office (ARO) is a subset of CBP that processes waiver applications. This office is not considered essential for government shutdown purposes and is not active until a federal budget is passed. This means that, at present, no Applications for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant for Canadians at the land border are being accepted. These forms are necessary to enter the U.S. if a foreign national was previously deemed inadmissible to enter the United States. There will also be an impact of consular waivers to enter the U.S. as ARO is responsible for adjudication. Until the federal government shutdown ends, no one will receive waivers for inadmissibility. This could have major effects for inadmissible foreign nationals with plans to enter the U.S.
The Nexus program is also feeling the impact of the government shutdown. Nexus is a collaborative program between the U.S. and Canada that issues trusted traveler benefits to low-risk Canadians and Americans. This allows decreased wait time when entering either country and numerous other benefits. While the Canadian arm of this program is still operational, U.S. CBP officers are no longer processing Nexus applications due to the shutdown. The adjudication of both the U.S. and Canadian government is required to approve a Nexus card. Until U.S. officers can start reviewing applications again, the program is essentially at a standstill.
It is not clear when the shutdown will end and if it will have any lasting impacts on processing times for certain immigration matters. Berardi Immigration Law will continue to provide our clients with the most up-to-date information.