A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Impact of Government Shutdown on Immigration Filings

As we all know by now, negotiations broke down in Congress and the Federal government has been shutdown as of midnight Friday, January 19, 2018.  Luckily for some and maybe unluckily for others, the government did not completely shutdown.  The government was shutdown because there was no federal funding to finance the government operations and activities.  However, even during a shutdown, certain essential services will continue including social security payments, military services, air travel services, etc.

What about immigration services? 
Although most federal agencies will be closed, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an exception as their services are considered essential.  For example, the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) will continue its operations at the ports of entry.  The Immigrant and Custom Enforcement (ICE) will continue to enforce the immigration laws. 
Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is part of the DHS, it does not get its funding from Congress; it is financed by the application fees paid by the public.  Hence, the shutdown does not affect its operations.  It will continue to accept immigration petitions from the public with some exceptions, including the Special Immigrant Religious Workers program, EB-5 Regional Center Program, E-Verify and the Conrad 30 J-1 doctors program. 
However, the Department of Labor (DOL)'s operations have been shut down.  It means that the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center (OFLC) will no longer be able to certify the Labor Condition Application (LCA) for H-1B petitions, issue Prevailing Wage determination for PERM labor application, or adjudicate any PERM ETA9089 applications.  Hence, these types of applications will not be able to proceed for the time being.  Applicants are advised to continue submitting these applications.  Based on the experience of the last shutdown, the DOL will likely provide some retroactive relief regarding timeliness and deadlines.  
Regarding overseas visa and passport services, the Department of State (DOS) has stated that their operations will continue for the time being.  Hence, overseas applications should not be affected.

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