With the U.S. Government shutdown looming, many are wondering how immigration will be directly impacted by U.S. Congress’ failure to pass a budget bill to keep our services in operation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has passed on information regarding key services that will be directly impacted by the government shutdown. These key services directly affect business immigration the most with respect to employers being able to hire foreign workers because of the involvement of the Dept. of Labor in that process. The Dept of Labor put out this notice to practitioners and individuals who will be affected by the government shutdown:
“OFLC functions are not “excepted” from a shutdown and its employees would be placed in furlough status should a lapse in appropriated funds occur. Consequently, in the event of a government shutdown, OFLC will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC’s web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts.”
Basically, the statement from the DOL is that many of the services that business immigration clients use to allow individuals to work in the U.S. will be placed on hold until the budget is resolved and appropriations are made to allow those functions to work again. As of tomorrow, no further services by iCERT and PERM’s websites will put a lot of those cases on hold until the U.S. Congress has resolved its budgetary concerns.
In addition to the Dept. of Labor, the Executive Office of Immigration Review will also be impacted by the government shutdown but it did put out a statement to assure individuals affected by this that procedures have been setup to deal with this situation. In particular, the EOIR issued its statement saying that “the EOIR has indicated that its response to a potential shutdown is the same as it was in 2011. EOIR has been advised to “put its shutdown plans in place.” As with other agencies, personnel who are not considered “essential” will be furloughed. EOIR has indicated that the detained docket would likely be considered an essential function and would therefore be able to continue in operation.”
While this means that there might be some delay in getting certain services done that are handled by the EOIR, its essential functions will remain in place and continue to operate as necessary.
While these two agencies do affect immigration cases directly, the other functions of immigration remain essential such that they will continue to operate and handle cases. If any backlog or slowdown occur with the processing of immigration cases before USCIS, DHS, and CBP, we will be able to pass along that information so you can know how to handle your own cases accordingly.