Immigration Law Blog

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown 10/1/2013 - Impact on Immigration

The U.S. Congress failed to reach an agreement on funding for the federal budget yesterday. As a direct result certain government services will either not be available or will only function on a limited basis.

This memo briefly summarizes the impact of the shutdown on Immigration related services.[i]

USCIS:           Open for business

All USCIS worldwide office will remain open and individuals should report to interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS is primarily funded by application fees and if there is any impact by the shutdown it should be on a limited basis. It is too early to tell whether there could be related delays.

DOL:              Key Immigration Functions Shutdown

According to the DOL: “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 (LCAs), 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.”

  • One of the immediate impacts will likely be on H-1B petitions. If DOL does not accept LCAs for processing, employers will not be able to initiate new H-1B petitions.
  • Further, PERM cases will also be impacted.

DOL's Office of Administrative Law Judges will be unable to perform any case-related activities, including conducting hearings. Hearings that have been previously scheduled will therefore be cancelled prior to the date of the hearing, and they will not be rescheduled for hearing until an appropriations bill or continuing resolution takes effect.

CBP:               Remain open

CBP will continue to monitor and secure our border as it performs vital functions in the national interest.

DOS:               Mostly business as usual

“The Department will continue as many normal operations as possible; operating status and available funding will need to be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be continued. Review their “Guidance on Operations” for more information.”

EOIR:             Only detained caseload will continue; all other functions are suspended.

“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.

Update from EOIR on October 1, 2013: Court functions that support the detained caseload will continue, but other functions are suspended. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is processing emergency stay requests as well as cases where the alien is detained, including case appeals, motions, federal court remands, and bonds. Please review their notice for more information.”

ICE:                Still functioning

“From ICE Community Outreach - ICE detention and enforcement operations shall continue. ICE chief counsel trail attorneys will still work on the detained docket only during a shutdown. Please coordinate with your local Chief Counsel Office on more specifics. The ICE Community and Detainee Helpline will remain operational.”

DHS: Due to the lapse in federal, DHS’s website will not be actively managed.

E-Verify:        Not Available

E-Verify is currently unavailable due to a government shutdown. Please see their notice for policies implemented due to E-Verify’s unavailability.

CIS Ombudsman:   Closed

The CIS Ombudsman's Office will be closed and will not be accepting any inquiries through their online case intake system. 

[i] Adopted from AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11040730, “What happens during a Government Shutdown” (Updated 10/1/2013).

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