With the New Year, of course, there are always changes-unfortunately, not all good. In New Jersey, USCIS has already made the transition to its modernization campaign and eliminated self-scheduling of appointments through INFOPASS. Late last month, USCIS also announced that it will be discontinuing several USCIS service center email boxes, which have been previously used to address case-specific issues. Effective Jan 21, 2019, the following email addresses will no longer be in use or responded to:
California Service Center: [email protected]
Vermont Service Center: [email protected]
Nebraska Service Center: [email protected]
Potomac Service Center: [email protected]s.dhs.gov
Texas Service Center: [email protected]
Additionally, many are understandably concerned how the current government shutdown has impacted immigration. The good news is that for the most part, applications with USCIS will continue to be processed without interruption. USCIS is a fee-funded agency, and as such, continues to operate on the basis of government filing fees. Therefore, most applications, including I-130s, I-765s, I-485s, and even DACA renewal applications will continue to be accepted and processed. However, E-Verify services are apparently not available.
Enforcement agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), also continue to operate as normal and are not affected by the current shutdown. Interestingly, however, the immigration courts are impacted by the congressional impasse. The courts are still hearing cases for individuals on the detained docket; however, non-detained calendar cases are apparently not being heard unless and until the government can come to an agreement over funding. Ironically, this development has had the unintended effect of bringing many pending cases to a halt-precisely the opposite of what the Trump administration is trying to accomplish by stripping courts of their authority to postpone and administratively close cases.
Given the dramatic changes that happened last year with immigration, this year promises to be another unpredictable one with potentially significant developments, both on the legislative front and in the courts. Stay tuned!