The current lapse in annual appropriated funding for the U.S. government does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities. Our offices will remain open, and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications for benefit requests, except as noted below.
Some USCIS programs, however, will either expire or suspend operations, or be otherwise affected, until they receive appropriated funds or are reauthorized by Congress. These include:
- EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program (not the EB-5 Program). Regional centers are a public or private economic unit in the U.S. that promotes economic growth. USCIS designates regional centers for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program. The EB-5 Program will continue to operate.
- E-Verify. This free internet-based system allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.
- Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors. This program allows J-1 doctors to apply for a waiver of the two-year residence requirement after completing the J-1 exchange visitor program. The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the U.S.; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely.
- Non-minister religious workers. This special immigrant category allows non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate or adjust to permanent resident status in the U.S. to perform religious work in a full-time, compensated position.
For years, stripping naturalized US citizens of their citizenship was reserved for those who committed extreme crimes. A new program started by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has started to take a closer look at existing naturalization cases that might be based on fraud. The problem is that some of these cases might be based on very thin evidence, even downright mishandling of the naturalization documents by government employees themselves. The New York Times article details the case of a Haitian family that found itself in the middle of such a situation, years after their naturalization.
“Second Look” started as “Operation Janus” under the Obama administration. Both programs seek to identify people who obtained US citizenship despite deportation orders or criminal indictments. However, the article outlines other cases that point to an increase in denaturalization cases by the Trump administration, under criminal and civil premises.
“Since January 2017, United States attorney’s offices have filed 107 criminal naturalization fraud cases. Among these cases are a number against people like Odette Dureland, naturalized citizens who purportedly committed fraud but who deny those claims. Many involve people whose histories raise no national-security concerns — an apparent departure from the Obama administration’s priorities. But the number is on par with prosecutions during the Obama era. Where there has been a marked rise in denaturalizations under Trump is in the civil process. Lawyers in the Office of Immigration Litigation filed more than 65 civil denaturalization cases between January 2017 and November 2018, according to data from the Justice Department, twice the total number of civil cases that the office filed in the last two years of the Obama administration. Some of these people would most likely have been denaturalized under any administration, including people who were convicted of serious crimes or were discovered to have participated in war crimes. But the Trump administration’s prosecutions have served another purpose: In news releases and declarations by senior officials, the denaturalization cases have been used as cudgels — tools for attacking the legal immigration process as riddled with fraud, as pathways for criminals and terrorists to enter the United States.”
The full in-depth analysis by the New York Times is HERE.