A Potential Government Shutdown – What to Expect

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We have been closely monitoring the current situation concerning the potential government shutdown set to begin March 8th, 2024, alongside a partial government shutdown set to begin as early as March 1st.

In the event of a legislative impasse leading to a failure to fund the government, it is imperative to anticipate any disruptions to immigration services and processes. A government shutdown starting March 8th would affect the Department of State, Homeland Security, and Labor, thereby affecting various aspects of immigration-related activities.

Please be advised that a government shutdown would specifically affect the following:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Given that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is an agency of DHS, delays in the processing of cases are to be expected. Fortunately, USCIS is largely a fee-funded service, and therefore, will continue to operate during the shutdown.

We also expect there to be minimal impact to the H-Cap registration process, set to begin March 6th – right before the anticipated shutdown. We advise our clients to promptly submit their H-Cap registrations. Our services are readily available to provide assistance throughout the submission process.

While Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is also an agency of DHS, CBP will remain open as it performs “essential” duties relating to national security.

Department of Labor (DOL)

The DOL has historically been substantially impacted by government shutdowns, as they operate primarily on federal funding. Please note that Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and PERM Labor Certification Applications will not certify during the shutdown.

We highly encourage our clients to collaborate with us in submitting multi-slot LCAs to prevent any delays in the filing of H-1B and E-3 petitions. If there is any uncertainty in the employment conditions for beneficiaries, we would advise the filing of a ‘blanket’ multi-slot LCA covering several of the positions that your company routinely uses – authorizing the beneficiary to conduct work from your offices. This would guarantee we would be able to file the petition if necessary, and not miss crucial deadlines. While not ideal, an H-1B amendment petition could be filed at a later date to revise the conditions of employment.

Department of State (DOS)

The State Department will continue to issue passports and visas within the U.S. and abroad, as this work is also considered to be “essential” to national security. These processes are partially funded by visa application and other related fees, reducing the reliance on government funding. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that non-emergency services could face suspension during an extended shutdown, impacting the issuance of business and employment visas.

Additionally, some passport locations are situated within federal buildings overseen by agencies more severely affected by the shutdown. In these instances, DOS has indicated the possibility of suspending consular and passport services in its shutdown contingency plan.

We appreciate your ongoing collaboration and trust in navigating these changes. Our committed team is available to lead you through the dynamic processes, ensuring a seamless and successful immigration journey for your organization and employees. We will continue to update our partners on the latest developments.

Written by Taleen Khleifat.

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