As rumors of a possible shutdown of the U.S. Government increase, we wanted to take a few moments to pass along some information about how this may affect America World families. Currently, members of Congress are working with the Obama Administration to pass a budget for the 2011 fiscal year. If an agreement is not reached by midnight on Friday, April 8, parts of the federal government will close until a new budget is passed.
We are working to stay on top of the situation and to get accurate information about what adoption services will be affected if a shutdown occurs. It is important to remember that, at this point, a shutdown is only a possibility and is not guaranteed.
While the information coming out of Washington is unclear, what is known is that a shutdown would result in the furlough of any “non-essential” government personnel. It is unclear exactly which services are considered “essential,” but it appears that “essential” functions are those that the government considers necessary for the protection of human life and property (i.e. national security, air traffic control, medical care, etc.).
Unfortunately, it appears that the Department of State and USCIS will be affected if a shutdown occurs. Information that we received from a recent meeting held at the Department of State indicated that furloughs will affect many staff who work with adoptions at DOS, USCIS, and embassy and consulate offices around the world. Embassies will be officially “closed” during the shutdown, meaning that embassy staff will not be able to serve the public during this time. If this happens, delays in processing paperwork and completing adoptions are likely.
If a shutdown occurs, it is unclear how long it will be until all government services are back up and running. Previous shutdowns have lasted from as little as a few hours to as long as 21 days. It is also important to remember that there are ways for the government to avoid a shutdown completely. First, Congress could pass a budget prior to the Friday deadline, which would fund all government services throughout the remainder of the fiscal year. Obviously, this is the ideal scenario. Congress also has the option of passing a short-term “continuing resolution” that would continue spending at current levels in order to buy more time to reach an agreement on a new budget.
In the event of a shutdown, here’s how we think America World families will be affected: Families currently building their dossiers could see delays in paperwork processing of USCIS approvals and document authentications. Families who are preparing to travel could likely see delays in receiving Embassy/Consulate clearance and appointment dates. Families who are already in-country would likely not be able to receive a US visa for their adopted child and experience delays in returning home until the government re-opens.
America World is in communication with U.S. government officials and will provide you with any new information we receive. Please be in prayer that our elected officials will be able to come to an agreement so that the government can continue processing adoptions.