January 19, 2018

Impact of Potential Government Shutdown on Immigration-Related Federal Agencies

According to news reports this morning (1/19/2018), Senate Republicans and Democrats have not yet reached a deal on a spending bill to fund government operations. Without at least a short-term spending bill, the Government will shut down at midnight. Although there is still time for the Senate to negotiate a deal on a short-term spending bill, the threat of a government shutdown remains.

During a government shutdown, all non-essential government personnel are furloughed and prevented from working. The following is a list of immigration-related agencies and how they have handled shutdowns in previous years:

· USCIS – Because USCIS is a fee-funded agency, it will likely continue processing applications and petitions as usual. The exception is the E-Verify program, which will likely shutdown.

· DOS –At present, it is unclear how exactly the Department of State will be impacted. Visa and passport operations are fee-funded, but operating status and funding will need to be closely monitored. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and emergencies. If you are planning to travel internationally and will need to renew a nonimmigrant visa while abroad, please note that visa interviews could be impacted or delayed.

· CBP – Inspection and law enforcement are considered essential personnel. Although ports of entry will be open, the processing of applications at the border may be impacted.

· ICE – ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is fee-funded and will likely be unaffected by a shutdown.

· DOL – The Office of Foreign Labor Certification would likely cease processing all applications including LCA, Prevailing Wage Determinations, and Labor Certifications. Personnel would not be available to respond to inquiries and the OFLC’s web-based systems would be inaccessible.

In addition, several specific immigration programs may be impacted. Individuals may be unable to file I-526 Immigrant Investor petitions if they are investing through the Regional Center Program. H-1B petitions under the Conrad-30 J-1 Waiver program for physicians may also be impacted.

Because the situation is rapidly developing, please stay tuned for further updates.

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