At midnight on January 20, 2018, the United States Federal Government effectively closed for business. This occurred because Congress failed to agree upon and pass an appropriations bill that pays for government-funded programs and activities.
Essential workers will continue business as usual; however, some nonessential employees have been told to stay home until further notice.
How does this shutdown affect the immigration community?
|UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES (USCIS)
|Most applications and services with USCIS are fee-based; in other words, applicants pay a fee when filing the various forms. As such, they are funded, and are not affected by a shutdown.
Forms will be accepted as normal, and applicants should continue to attend all scheduled interviews.
However, USCIS has confirmed that the following processes have been affected:
|UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE (DOS)||As with USCIS, many activities within the DOS are fee based. This includes the processing and issuance of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. As such, operations should remain normal.
However, if the furloughs are prolonged, staffing may be decreased. If that occurs, services at worldwide consulates and embassies may be limited to urgent and life-threatening issues.
US Passport applications are also fee-based and should remain active; however, access to passport offices within federal buildings may be limited.
|UNITED STATES DEPARTMENTOF JUSTICE (DOJ)
|The DOJ includes the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) – or the Immigration Courts. Their office has a dedicated Twitter account for up-to-date information.
The detained dockets will remain open and active as normal.
Non-detained cases may see a cancellation or postponement of scheduled hearings. Filings for the non-detained dockets will continue.
|IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (ICE)||ICE is responsible for border and internal enforcement.
They are considered essential, and are operating as normal.
|UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL)||DOL is responsible for the issuance of prevailing wage requests, and certification of LCAs (for H-1Bs) and PERM applications (for permanent cases).
DOL’s iCERT portal is shut down and inaccessible until the government reopens. This means that no new LCAs can be filed or certified (for H-1B extensions or changes of employer), no new PERM applications can be filed, and no prevailing wage requests can be filed or processed.
If you have any questions about this issue, please contact our office. We will of course continue to keep our clients and the immigration community updated as we learn more.