There seems to be a general consensus that a government shutdown is very likely as legislators continue to debate a spending bill to fund the government. If the legislature does not pass a bill by 12 midnight, then the government will officially shut down on Tuesday, October 1 at 12:01 a.m. EST. This would be the first government shutdown in 17 years.
USILaw has contacted USCIS, AILA, and other stakeholders on the impact of a government shutdown on the processing of Immigration petitions by the USCIS and other related agencies. We are happy to inform our clients that, for the most part, USCIS will continue to operate normally, in that they will continue to receive and adjudicate immigration applications. This is because USCIS is funded primarily through applicant fees.
However, immigration may be affected in cases where USCIS works closely with other government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). In the event of a government shutdown, the DOL is likely to suspend certifications of Labor Condition Applications associated with H-1B filings, as well as Applications for Permanent Labor Certification (“PERM”) associated with immigrant petitions for alien workers.
Similarly, the Department of State is expected to significantly slow or suspend visa processing in the event of a government shutdown. Since the Department of State is expected to discontinue non-emergency visa services at U.S. Consulates worldwide, visa applicants should be aware that no new visas will be issued, and consular appointments will likely be cancelled or postponed. It is not clear at this point whether the November Visa Bulletin numbers will be affected by the possible government shutdown.
Please also beware that we are entering unchartered territory as the impact of a potential government shutdown will be unpredictable and depend on the duration and other unforeseen elements.
We will be providing periodic updates on this issue.
Should you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please contact us.