September 25, 2023

Impact of Potential Government Shutdown on Immigration-Related Federal Agencies

According to news reports today (9/25/2023), 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 on September 30, 2023. Although there is still time for the government to pass a 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. However, due to staff reductions, we would expect decisions to be made more slowly. The exception is the E-Verify program, which will likely be completely shut down. Even if the E-Verify program is shut down, employers are still responsible to fulfill all required E-Verify-related compliance obligations, so we would encourage employers to handle as many such obligations as possible before October 1.

· 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, some consular posts may only handle diplomatic visas and emergencies. If you are planning to travel internationally and will need to receive a nonimmigrant visa while abroad, please note that visa interviews could be delayed or cancelled.

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

· DOL: The Office of Foreign Labor Certification will likely cease processing all applications including Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) (Form ETA-9035/9035E), Prevailing Wage Determinations (Form ETA-9141), and Labor Certifications (Form ETA-9089). Personnel will not be available to respond to inquiries, and the OFLC’s web-based systems will be inaccessible. This means that LCAs will be inaccessible to support new H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 petitions. We would encourage employers to contact us regarding filing any upcoming LCAs as soon as possible before the October 1 deadline.

In addition, several specific immigration programs may be impacted, including Conrad 30 and other Interested Government Agency J-1 waivers and non-minister religious workers.

· 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.

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

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