Ten minutes before funding for the Department of Homeland Security ran out at midnight on February 27th, President Obama signed the one-week funding extension passed by Congress late Friday night. This temporarily reprieve averts a “shutdown” of the Department of Homeland Security until midnight on March 6th. However, Congress failed to come to a long-term agreement to provide fiscal year funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and provide confidence that a DHS shutdown will ultimately be avoided.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is one of the many agencies under the umbrella of the DHS. USCIS grants affirmative immigration benefits based on user fees. As discussed in our alert, as a fee-funded agency, USCIS will be minimally impacted by any shut down. However, in previous government shut downs, such as the one in late 2013, we observed a general slowdown in petition and application processing times.
Unlike in the full government shut down of 2013, non-DHS agencies that process other types of immigration related applications and identity documents, such as the Department of Labor, Department of State, and the Social Security Administration, will continue operating under fully funded budgets. We therefore do not expect any impact on the processing times for H-1B Labor Condition Applications, PERM Labor Certifications or visa applications at U.S. Embassies or Consulates abroad regardless of what happens with DHS funding bills.