Currently, the federal US government is in a partial shutdown. How does this affect visa applications and applications for ESTA/Visa Waivers?

According to BBC News:

Under the shutdown, (...), and visa and passport applications will go unprocessed.

However, according to Wikipedia, which cites a Foreign Policy article that is behind a paywall:

The United States Department of State will continue to process visa and passport applications, using funds from fees.

The two are contradictory. Are visa applications still being processed, or are they not?

  • Most news sites are saying no visa processing -- but they could all easily be using the same source. However, I find it hard to believe visa fees are separated in such a way that it would be possible to use them to fund the process -- although this might be possible if the process was completely outsourced to a third party. If nothing else, I'd expect delays. I'd be interested to see if someone has a concrete source -- it's a good question.
    – SpaceDog
    Oct 1, 2013 at 13:04
  • Comment regarding the notice Post is related to a rapidly changing event: although there is a rapidly changing event, the answer likely applies equally to possible future US government shutdowns, so it's somewhat generic still.
    – gerrit
    Oct 1, 2013 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


This is from a law firm's news letter:

Fee-Paying Services

As a fee-based agency, USCIS will continue to accept and process applications and petitions. However, we expect there to be delays in processing, as some support staff may be furloughed and USCIS depends on non-essential agencies for services.

E-Verify will be shut down. According to the Department of Homeland Security, “citizens and U.S. businesses will not be able to access E-Verify, the Internet based system that allows employers to voluntarily determine the eligibility of prospective employees to work in the United States.”

The Department of State confirmed that consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. However, this is only expected to last for a few days, after which consular posts will focus solely on diplomatic services and emergency services for American citizens. We expect delays in processing visas, and if there is a prolonged shut down, we expect a cessation of visa processing. During previous shutdowns, business reasons have not qualified for emergency visa processing.

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