Impact of Government Shutdown on Immigration Agencies


Date of Announcement: October 18, 2013

Both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed a temporary budget deal which was signed by President Obama shortly thereafter. Federal workers have been instructed to return to work effective today, October 17, 2013.

As federal agencies resume operations, it may take time for immigration-related services to become fully operational, especially the U.S. Department of Labor.   DOL is open, and as of noon on 10/18/2013 the electronic portals for filing Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), Prevailing Wage Requests and PERM Labor Certification Applications are back online.  It is likely that application processing times will lengthen, given backlogs created by inactivity during the shutdown, and expected surges in filings once applications are again accepted through the electronic portals. We await guidance from DOL with respect to how it will handle applications and audit responses that could not be filed on deadline due to the government shutdown.

Date of Announcement: October 1, 2013

*** Courtesy of Council for Global Immigration ***

While the situation is fluid and we have seen conflicting information from various sources, Council for Global Immigration has verified the following information through conversations and correspondence with government officials in order to provide the most recent information.   Please let ISSS know if your experience with the agencies differs from the information below and we will provide updates as the implementation of the shutdown continues to develop.

Department of Homeland Security

  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS):  will remain functional because SEVIS is a fee-funded program and does not receive any government-appropriated funds.
  • USCIS Adjudications: USCIS is mostly fee funded, and therefore the impact on adjudications will be minimal compared to most immigration processes.  This means that processing at USCIS will be relatively normal, other than processes affected by other agencies (for instance, no new LCAs will be issued by Department of Labor for H-1Bs).
  • E- Verify: Unlike the rest of USCIS, E-Verify is not fee funded and will be inaccessible during a shutdown.  Consult your employer and/or the USCIS website for guidance.
  • Customs and Border Protection: most CBP functions (such as immigration inspection at the airports) will continue as most CBP staff are considered essential. 
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement: will retain most of its staff because they are considered essential.   We do not expect any major issues with enforcement.

Department of Labor

  • The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will essentially shut its doors during a shutdown.  This means no processing of labor certifications, LCAs or prevailing wage determinations during a shutdown.  We also now know that employers and attorneys will not even be able to log into the PERM and iCERT websites during a shutdown.  We are pushing for grace periods in situations such as recruitment expiration while the agency is closed.

Department of State

  • In previous situations where a shutdown was looming, we were told that a shutdown would basically mean cessation of consular affairs, visa processing and passport issuance altogether, except for certain narrow exceptions such as humanitarian exceptions.
  • With this shutdown, however, the Department of State appears to have a temporary solution but the details are unclear.  The official statement from the Department of State is:
    • Consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. However, if a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported. The continuance of consular operations in such instances will be treated on a case-by-case basis by the Under Secretary for Management.
  • We were able to confirm yesterday with the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs that visa issuance will continue at least temporarily.  We do not have confirmation at this time as to the alternative source of funding or how long it will last.

Other agencies

  • Social Security Administration will not issue social security numbers during the shutdown.  No new or duplicate social security cards will be issued. If the application was submitted before today, it will still get processed.
  • The SAVE system used by other agencies, including stage agencies, to verify eligibility for benefits will remain functional.

Please check back here for any updates.