How the government shutdown is affecting employment-based Immigration

Category: government shutdown, federal government

How the government shutdown is affecting employment-based Immigration


Over the weekend, the federal government shut down for the first time in more than four years after Congress failed to reach agreement on a new spending bill.

The shutdown may affect certain sponsored employees with pending immigration cases, as well as cases in the process of being filed. Many federal government agencies that are involved in the immigration process, which receive funding from fees, are expected to remain open. Still, some services will be suspended or are expected to reduce staff, leading to processing delays.

Here's a closer look:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is a fee-funded agency, so offices will remain open and applicants should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. Nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions will continue to be processed, but a reduction in personnel may affect processing times. Additionally, certain USCIS programs will be suspended until they receive funding or reauthorization from Congress, notably the E-Verify program.

The U.S. Department of State will continue to process non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications at U.S. consular posts abroad, provided there are sufficient fees to support operations. Certain passport offices will remain open, but processing delays are likely.

The U.S. Department of Labor will largely cease operations during the shutdown. PERM labor certification and prevailing wage requests will be suspended until funding is restored. Processing of Labor Condition Applications for H-1B, H-2, and E-3 non-immigrant visa petitions will also be suspended. BALCA dockets will be placed on hold as well.

The federal government considers inspection and law enforcement personnel at U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be "essential” employees. Ports of entry will remain open, allowing travelers to apply for entry and be admitted into the United States. However, it is possible that processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) will continue its enforcement and removal operations, but ICE attorneys will likely focus on the detained docket during the shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices, which monitor F-1 student visas, are funded by fees and will not be impacted.

We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and provide updates as soon as new information is available. For additional information about the Federal government shutdown or general immigration issues, please contact Vinh Duong at 615.850.8936 or Nora Katz at 615.850.8730.

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