Affects of the US Government Shutdown on Indian Immigrants

As the country recovers from the aftermath of the recent 35-day government shutdown that happened in December 2018 and continued way into January 2019, the US immigration system and the immigrants who got caught in it have suffered the most. As time-sensitive immigration procedures already are, coupled with the backlog it has been enduring in the recent years this shutdown has brought on further damage to scores of immigrants.

India supplies the largest population of work based immigrants to the US. With the 35-day government shutdown, they were the hardest hit, both in terms of delayed process and lost time as well loss in income and wages.

How has the recent US government shutdown affected Indian immigrants?

E-verify stopped:

Indian private business owners use US government’s e-verify program to evaluate work-eligibility of new employees. With the government shutdown, this wasn’t functional and as a result, small Indian businesses froze hiring altogether. This is especially detrimental to businesses requiring new hires for its day-to-day running.

What Can They Do?

  • While they have to swallow the losses, these Indian business owners have had to submit credentials of new hires subsequently.
  • With hires that haven’t been cleared, they will have to face delays due to the backlogs.

Immigration Hearings Cancelled:

The already backed-up court system of 829,608 cases, cancelled another 90,115 hearings during the shutdown. These go to the back of the queue while 60,000 hearings are rescheduled.

What Can They Do?

  • The majority of Indian family-based green card petitioners have to hound the court clerks to record, refile and reschedule their hearings.
  • Most of them are expected not to be scheduled until Yr.2020.
  • Petitioners at the Newark and LA immigration courts should expect the most delays.

EB-5 program lapsed:

One of the alternate routes to the US is with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program that allows one to invest a certain amount to “buy-in” a green card. Without getting Congress’ approval before the shutdown kicked in, this program lapsed thereby, putting a complete stop to any Indian EB-5 applicant’s options. According to USCIS, “All regional center applications and individual petitions are affected.” There is an estimated 852 EB-5 applicants from India.

What Can They Do?

  • Even after the government has reopened, the EB-5 program hasn’t been reinstituted yet.
  • However, USCIS is accepting and issuing receipts for all EB-5 applications filed during and after the shutdown.
  • While applicants can continue to file, they should expect to be kept on procedural hold until the Congress approves the funds for the Department of Homeland Security.

Go to Trackitt to find out how others are recovering from the US government shutdown and if it has impacted green card interviews.