Why Is the US Government Shut Down and What Does It Mean for J-1’s?

Filed in American Culture, J-1 Regulation Explainers by on January 15, 2019 0 Comments


As an exchange visitor to the United States, you may have some questions about how the nation has entered a government shutdown and what comes next.

Simply put, the U.S. government can enter a shutdown if Congress doesn’t provide enough money to keep it open, or if the president refuses to sign bills that would fund the government.

In this case, we entered a partial government shutdown on December 22, when President Trump and Democrats in Congress were unable to reach a compromise, with the president demanding additional funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. To date, this is the longest shutdown in U.S. history

President Trump is demanding over $5 billion for a border wall and has refused to reopen the government until he receives the funding, despite attempts from congressional Republicans and Democrats to reopen particular government agencies. Opposition to funding a border wall includes questions about whether the wall alone would be effective in managing border security.

Now, three weeks into the shutdown, many federal employees are missing their paychecks. While some “essential” employees are still getting paid, everyone from air traffic controllers to members of the U.S. Coast Guard are concerned about how they will pay for things like rent and groceries as the shutdown continues.

There have been increased demands to reopen the government, but the issue has become highly politicized and it is difficult to guess when it may come to an end.

In the meantime, intern and trainee exchange visitors, and the hosts welcoming them to the United States, should remain minimally impacted by the shutdown. As a J-1 via sponsor for private sector programs, the American Immigration Council does not rely on government funds to operate.

Incoming visitors should monitor the availability of visa services online or directly with their local U.S. Consular Office. Travelers however would be smart to allow additional time for screening at airport security checkpoints.

Host sites looking to evaluate employment verification are reminded to keep accurate I-9 form records while E-verify services are unavailable. Disruption to E-Verify should not deter hosts from welcoming sponsored exchange visitors for training. Evidence of an exchange visitor’s authorization to participate in work-based activities at pre-vetted host organizations includes an unexpired foreign passport, and an updated arrival record (I-94) matching the sponsor-endorsed Certificate of Eligibility for (J-1) Exchange Visitor Status (form DS-2019).

If you have any questions, please be in touch.

Photo by Elliott P.