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How Will the Government Shutdown Impact Immigration?

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Photo credit: Scott Kirkwood/NPCA

Today marks the fifth day of a partial government shutdown that began on Saturday. The government was forced into a shutdown after Democrats refused to concede $5 billion dollars to fund the President’s wall along the southwest border.

Since then, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have not opened negotiations to appease the President. If a resolution is not reached before the end of December, it is highly unlikely that the President will receive the money demanded to fund the border wall. When the new House of Representatives convenes after the holidays, the Democrats will command a majority in the House of Representatives, making it more difficult for the President to obtain the necessary funding.

The government shutdown will affect various government entities including the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor.

Here’s how it will affect immigration:

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program:

Without congressional authorization to continue the EB-5 Regional Center Program beyond December 21, 2018, USCIS will not accept new Forms I-924, Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program. Any Form I-924 applications that are pending as of December 21, 2018, will be placed on hold until further notice.

Per the USCIS Website:

“We will continue to receive regional center-affiliated Forms I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and Forms I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, after the close of business on Dec. 22, 2018. As of Dec. 22, 2018, we will put unadjudicated regional center-affiliated Forms I-526 and I-485 (whether filed before or after the expiration date) on hold for an undetermined length of time.

All Forms I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, filed before or after the expiration date, will not be affected by the expiration of the program.”

LCA Processing: H-1B Petitions & PERM

The Department of Labor is responsible for processing and certifying Labor Condition Applications for H-1B employment, as well as PERM labor certification applications.

During the shutdown, the Department of Labor will not be processing Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), prevailing wage requests, and PERM applications.

H-1B beneficiaries who need to file extensions, transfer applications, and PERM applicants with soon-expiring advertisements, will be adversely affected.

Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC)

The OFLC will cease processing all applications during the government shutdown and will not respond to emails or other inquiries. In addition, iCert and the Permanent Labor Certification online systems will not be accessible. BALCA appeals will be placed on hold.

USCIS

Fortunately, USCIS will not be affected by the government shutdown since the agency is funded directly by applicants. Applications will continue to be accepted and processed during the shutdown.

Department of State

Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and “life or death” emergencies.

CBP

Ports of entry will not be affected by the government shutdown, however processing of applications at the border may be impacted by the government shutdown.

ICE 

Similarly, ICE will not be affected by the shutdown.

More updates will be provided as they are received.