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Government Shutdown:  Immigration Implications

As of midnight, Friday, January 19th, the Federal government has shut down. Congress remains locked in a stalemate over the fate of 700,000 Dreamers vs. the Trump border wall and other hard line immigration changes. Many federal government departments and agencies are involved in handling U.S. immigration filings, and all of them are impacted by the shutdown. Services essential to national security will continue, but non-essential operations will be impacted.

Department of Labor (USDOL) – Suspension of PERM and LCA Filings

USDOL adjudicates Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (PERM) as well as Labor Condition Applications, which are required for filing certain nonimmigrant work visa petitions (H-1B, E-3) and Prevailing Wage Determinations. At the time of this posting, the DOL website portal is no longer functional due to the shutdown. If the shutdown continues for an extended period of time, this will impact the timing of H-1B and PERM application filings.

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) – Petitions continue to be processed

USCIS adjudications are funded by filing fees paid along with petitions and applications for immigration benefits. Due to this independent source of operational funds, during previous shutdowns, most CIS adjudications continued unabated, though slightly delayed.

However, because H-1B petitions require a Labor Condition Application filing and certification by U.S. Department of Labor before a petition can be filed, the U.S. DOL shutdown of LCA adjudications will prevent new petitions from being filed.

Department of State – Expect Long Delays for Visas at Consular Posts

It is highly likely that visa applications will be greatly impacted by the shutdown, though essential U.S. Citizen services and higher level diplomatic functions will continue uninterrupted. All visa applications will be delayed, both immigrant and nonimmigrant, including B, L, H, O, E, F, and J.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)

CBP officers will continue enforcement activities as well as the inspection of foreign nationals entering the United States through the ports of entry.

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