If Government Shuts Down, Consular Interviews and Visa Issuance Could Be Affected

December 13, 2018

With President Trump threatening to shut down the government on December 21st unless he receives funding for his border wall, foreign nationals travelling abroad should be aware that applications for new or renewed visas may be affected. That is because the State Department – which handles visa applications at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world – would only be able to perform ‘essential’ government functions in absence of a new spending bill. During past government shutdowns, visa issuances and consular interviews have not been considered ‘essential’, and so have not been carried out until government re-opens.

Therefore, if you are abroad (or are going to be travelling abroad in the coming weeks) and need to obtain a new visa before re-entering the U.S., it is highly recommended that you schedule your appointment in advance of 12/21/2018.

If you already have a visa that will be valid when you re-enter the country, your travel plans are unlikely to be affected, as Customs & Border Patrol operations have always been treated as ‘essential’ during past shutdowns. However, it is always possible that the Trump administration will attempt to reclassify CBP operations as non-essential, so please be pay attention to alerts as events develop.

Most other immigration functions will continue to function during a shutdown, as USCIS is funded through filing fees, while the Department of Labor was fully funded by a bill passed this September.


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