What Happens to Immigration from a U.S. Government Shutdown?

Murali Bashyam

There is a strong likelihood that the US federal government will shut down operations on October 1, 2023, unless an agreement is reached between the U.S. Senate and House. As a result, many of our clients are uneasy about this news, especially those who are in the visa process. We think a shutdown could make immigration processing significantly slower or even halt it in certain areas. 

Here is a summary of the potential impact of a government shutdown:

  • Personnel in government-funded agencies will be furloughed except for “essential” personnel.
  • The Department of Labor may be unable to determine or certify prevailing wages for H-1B and Green Cards during the shutdown since the agency is dependent on governmental funding. If prevailing wages are required for an application to move through the approval process, the case will be delayed until a prevailing wage certification can be obtained.
  • The Department of Labor FLAG system will be shut down, thus halting the processing of Labor Condition Applications (LCA) and PERM labor certification cases.
  • Since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a fee-funded agency, the agency should operate as it does today. The government would likely halt programs such as E-Verify, EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J-1 doctors, and non-minister religious workers, which are mainly funded by the government. The Form I-9 document verification method should be used by employers currently using E-Verify during the shutdown.  The shutdown will not be an excuse not to verify legal work status for employees.
  • Unless a budget resolution is passed by September 30, 2023, the Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program will sunset.
  • Consular operations overseen by the Department of State can be impacted by slowdowns.
  • S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP)’s of Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” However, there could be a delay in the processing of applications filed at the border, such as those for L-1, TN, or eSafe waivers.
  • Immigration And Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement and removal operations will continue during a shutdown. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by filing fees.
  • Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) immigration non-detained court cases will be closed and will not accept new filings. If you have a court date that our office is handling, please contact us for your rescheduled date.

Our team at Bashyam Global Immigration Law Group will keep you updated as more information is made available regarding the impact of the shutdown.

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