Shutdown Impact on Visas for Foreign Guest Artists - (10/1/13)

U.S. petitioners seeking visas for foreign guest artists should plan for possible delays during the shutdown of the U.S. government, which began today. Obtaining a visa is a three part process, starting with approval of a petition by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), followed by processing of a visa application by the State Department at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, and completed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on inspection and admission to the U.S.  If the shutdown is brief, here is what to expect:

o    USCIS and Petitions:  Because USCIS is a fee-based agency that, for the most part, does not depend on Congressional appropriations, USCIS has resources to continue processing visa petitions. However, given the strain of the government shutdown on overall infrastructure, delays are a real possibility. USCIS does not anticipate a disruption of visa processing at this time, but it will post notice of any office closures on its website.

o    State Department and Visa Processing:  Consular visa processing, too, is supported by fees, not appropriations. Many consular offices thus will continue conducting interviews and issuing visas, so long as their buildings can remain open. The longer the shutdown persists, the more likely it is that consular services will become unavailable. Visit the web site for a specific consulate to determine whether the location is in operation. One major unknown is the fate of any visa applications that might be delayed by "additional administrative processing," meaning security-related concerns. A number of other U.S. agencies are involved in the clearance process and their ability to continue visa-related clearance operations is unclear.

o    Arrival in the U.S.:  Customs and Border Protection officials are considered “essential” personnel.  Entry to the U.S. for visa holders should not be interrupted.

This is what is known as of today, and the Artists from Abroad site will be updated as more information becomes available. When it comes to visas - as always, leave as much time as possible for the entire process to be completed. The longer the government shutdown remains in place, the more likely the process is to be delayed and disrupted.