The shutdown of the federal government will impact certain components of the U.S. immigration system. Based on currently available information, the following is an overview of how the shutdown will affect various processe
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services: the processing of petitions and applications at USCIS is expected to continue uninterrupted, as the agency is funded by user fees and is not dependent on federal appropriations.
Department of Labor: the Office of Foreign Labor Certifications, which has oversight over most immigration-related processes, is effectively closed. Consequently, DOL will neither accept nor process any applications or materials relating to Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), Prevailing Wage Determinations, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (i.e. the PERM system).
The operational status of DOL impacts the ability to file petitions with USCIS that require a certified LCA (such as requests for H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 classification). Historically, in instances where it was not possible to obtain a certified LCA, USCIS temporarily created an exemption to the LCA requirement. To date, however, no such exemption has been announced. Similarly, the DOL’s status may impact the structured timing requirements of PERM applications. We anticipate receiving future guidance on these issues, and will continue to provide updates.
Department of State: the issuance of visas, as well as related Consular operations, will remain operational for the present time. However, the Department of State has indicated that if current funds are exhausted, Consular services may be reduced or halted. Applicants for visas are advised to monitor the website of the Consulate at which they intend to apply for the latest information.
Customs & Border Protection: individuals entering the U.S. with a valid visa should not encounter any issues at airports or land border crossings, and the electronic I-94 retrieval system is operational. However, individuals who seek to apply for an immigration benefit at a port-of-entry or a pre-clearance facility (such as TN and L-1 applications for Canadian nationals) are advised to confirm the operational status of the location at which they intend to apply for the latest information.
E-Verify: the E-Verify system is unavailable during the government shutdown. As a result, E-Verify employers will not be able to verify employment eligibility or take any other action that requires access to an E-Verify account. The three-day rule for E-Verify cases is suspended, and the time period during which employees may resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations will be extended. Employers are not permitted to take any adverse action against an employee whose query is in an extended interim case status due to the government shutdown. Once the information is released, we will provide further information on how to address situations that cannot adhere to traditional E-Verify deadlines. Importantly, the interruption of E-Verify does not affect the Form I-9 obligation.