Government Shutdown Deadline Extended to March 22nd, 2024

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Today, Congress has voted on a one week stop-gap measure to extend the deadline for a potential government shutdown from March 8th, 2024, to March 22nd, 2024. The bill will continue to extend funding to the Department of State, Homeland Security, and Labor – agencies that play a crucial role in immigration-related activities.

In the event of a legislative impasse leading to a failure to fund the government, it is vitally important to anticipate any disruptions to immigration services and processes.

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

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

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

With the extended deadline, there will be no impact to the H-Cap registration process, set to begin March 6th and end on March 22nd – when the potential government shutdown is anticipated to begin.

Department of Labor (DOL)

We anticipate the DOL will be substantially impacted by a government shutdown, as they operate primarily on federal funding. Therefore, it is imperative that measures are taken to avoid the delays in Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and PERM Labor Certification Applications certification that will occur 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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