As you no doubt are aware, if Congress and President Trump are unable to reach accord on a spending bill or continuing resolution by midnight tonight, a partial government shutdown will take effect under which approximately 25% of the government will shut down.
So what does this mean for the agencies that process immigration cases? While we are still awaiting some guidance, the following is based upon what happened during past shutdowns and the limited guidance already released:
- Department of Labor (DOL): Department of Labor funding has been separately approved through September 2019, so DOL functions (including the iCERT and PERM portals and associated processing of applications for LCAs, Prevailing Wage Determinations, and PERM) should not be affected by the shutdown.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS fee-funded services will remain unaffected by the shutdown, since they do not require government appropriations to operate. USCIS will continue to process pending cases and accept new cases submitted for processing. However, certain services which require appropriated funds, most notably E-Verify, will shut down until funds are appropriated.
Department of State (DOS): Visa and passport operations are fee-based, so generally should not be impacted by the lapse in appropriations. Diplomatic services are considered essential, so most operations will continue. However, non-essential staff will be furloughed. Delays and temporary stoppages of visa services may occur since DOS depends on other agencies for visa service support.
If you have any employees who are abroad and intending to obtain visa stamps, or if you have employees without valid visa stamps who are planning to travel abroad in the near future, particularly those who have not yet scheduled visa appointments, we strongly recommend that you speak with them about the potential implications of a shutdown.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Inspection and law enforcement are considered "essential personnel," though staffing will be more limited than usual. The borders will be open; however, your employees should anticipate encountering delays with the processing of applications filed at the border
because of CBP's reduced staffing.
Should a shutdown occur, we will provide you with updated information regarding the functioning of these agencies or the processing of immigration cases as it becomes available. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact the attorney with whom you work with any specific questions about the processing of your company's cases.