The impending shutdown of the U.S. federal government on October 1st will impact immigration services across a number of different government agencies. In this alert we address the impact of a shutdown on petitions, visas, and labor certifications.
Immigration-related services can be broken down into three basic categories: security, fee-paying, and non-fee paying. We expect continued service for immigration services considered vital to national security, delays in fee-paying activities, and stoppage of work for non-fee paying services.
Security and enforcement functions as well as agencies considered essential to national security, such as border security (CBP) and customs (ICE), will likely continue operations near normal capacity.
Non-Fee Paying Services
The Department of Labor has stated that it will cease processing permanent labor certifications. New applications are unlikely to be accepted during the shutdown through the online system. In addition, the filing of Labor Condition Applications will be affected.
We expect a backlog to grow with each day of the government shutdown. This will negatively impact both pending applications and those filed after the resumption in government 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.