Employers need to consider the potential immigration consequences of a government shutdown due to the current budget impasse. While contingency plans have not been published, it is instructive to look at what happened during the last government shutdown for guidance. At that time, both the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service ("USCIS") and the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") stopped processing applications. Also, the U.S. Department of State ("DOS") stopped all visa-processing operations.
If there is a government shutdown, it could have significant consequences for employers and foreign national ("FN") employees in a number of respects. Employers will have to file nonimmigrant extensions, but they may not be adjudicated. This may affect the FN employees' ability to extend their drivers licenses unless states make accommodations for these unusual circumstances. FN employees who need new visas to return to the United States will not be able to secure them, and this may sharply curtail foreign travel. Organizations involved in mergers and acquisitions may not be able to transition FN employees from the target organization and, thus, may have to make contingency plans to maintain their employees' status.
No one wants a government shutdown. If one does occur, however, employers need to include immigration concerns in their contingency plans.