According to a recent AILA Practice Alert dated September 22, 2023 (AILA Doc. No. 21092710), the following might be the impact on the Immigration services: If the government agencies close for budgetary reasons, all but "essential" personnel are furloughed and are not allowed to work.
USCIS is a fee-funded agency, so if the government shuts down, it is generally business as usual. The exception to this is programs that receive appropriated funds – E-Verify, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program, Conrad 30 J-1 doctors, and non-minister religious workers, which are suspended or otherwise impacted.
- The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program should not be impacted by a shutdown as it was authorized through September 30, 2027.
- The Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program will sunset on September 30, 2023, unless a CR or appropriations package is signed into law before that date.
- USCIS has confirmed that employers may continue to use the new alternate document review process for remote Form I-9 document verification if E-Verify is temporarily unavailable due to a government shutdown.
- In the past, when the government reopened, USCIS accepted late I-129 filings, provided the petition was submitted with evidence that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was the government shutdown.
Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and, thus, are not normally impacted by a lapse in appropriations. Consular operations can nevertheless be impacted if there are insufficient fees to support operations at a particular post. In such a case, posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and "life or death" emergencies.
Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered "essential." Ports of entry will be open, and processing of passengers will continue; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.
ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.
Immigration court cases on the detained docket will proceed during a lapse in congressional appropriations while non-detained docket cases will be reset for a later date when funding resumes. Courts with detained dockets will receive all filings but will only process those involving detained dockets. Courts with only non-detained dockets will not be open and will not accept filings. Courts should issue an updated notice of hearing to respondents or representatives of record for reset hearings. Members may want to check with their local chapters for court-specific instructions.
The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC's web-based systems, FLAG and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.
*AILA's U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Liaison Committee(Committee) reached out to the DOL's Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) regarding what would happen to OFLC's operations should the federal government shut down on Sunday, October 1, at midnight (ET) due to budget issues. OFLC confirmed that if the federal government shuts down, OFLC will have to disable the FLAG system and will not be able to accept any applications during this period. Additionally, the Committee notes that users will not be able to access the FLAG system to print out any previously approved applications.
To the extent that PERM filers with impending deadlines can file now, OFLC recommends that they do so by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on September 30. Likewise, if an employer will need an LCA, OFLC encourages them to file this week. While a possible shutdown may be less than seven working days away, OFLC indicated that there is a reasonable chance that LCAs submitted this week could be adjudicated before the end of next week.
In the event that there is a shutdown, OFLC is considering issuing guidance about flexibilities for employers with filing deadlines. The Committee will keep members updated once any additional information is provided.
The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.
Congressional Constituent Services:
Some congressional offices may be closed during a government shutdown. Please contact the individual office for more information.
We regularly update our blog section to acquaint the community with the latest changes in Immigration policies. Please note the information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should it be construed as legal advice. We can promptly and efficiently represent clients located anywhere in the US or abroad on US Immigration Policies. If you seek further clarification, don't hesitate to contact SanSha Law Office at [email protected] or call us at 469-777-6161.