• Threat of Government Shutdown Looms; Immigration Services Could Be Affected
  • September 26, 2013
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • U.S. immigration operations could be suspended or delayed if the House and Senate are unable to pass a spending bill to avert a federal shutdown after September 30. The Departments of Homeland Security, Labor and State have not yet announced how their immigration operations would be affected by a shutdown; employers and foreign nationals should be prepared for delays if a spending agreement is not reached.

    Immigration functions not considered essential services could be suspended throughout the shutdown. Services that are essential or are funded by user fees could remain in operation but might be delayed, especially if they are dependent on functions that are suspended.

    USCIS’s operations are funded by user fees and thus might remain open during a shutdown, though processing could be slower than usual. E-Verify, which is not fee-funded, may be regarded as an essential service and stay in operation, though no official decision has yet been announced.

    Foreign labor certification services at the Department of Labor - already affected by the federal budget sequester that came into force earlier this year - are likely to be suspended as non-essential. This means that employers would not be able to apply for or receive PERM labor certifications, labor condition applications (LCAs) or prevailing wage determinations.

    The State Department’s visa and passport operations could remain open as they are fee-based, though some services could be suspended or delayed.

    Inspections at U.S. borders and ports of entry will remain in operation, but it is not yet known whether Customs and Border Protection will process immigration applications and petitions that are customarily filed at the border.