Potential Government Shutdown Could Have Immigration-Related Consequences

April 06, 2011

The potential government shutdown could have immigration-related consequences, especially for those immigration functions performed by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Although no official announcements have been made concerning what services would be affected by a shutdown, it is likely that DOS, which among its many functions issues visas to foreign nationals at U.S. consular posts abroad, would operate on a severely limited basis. Foreign nationals should be prepared for delays and may want to consider postponing travel outside the country if a new visa stamp would be required to re-enter the United States. Prevailing wage determinations, online PERM filings, and labor condition applications would be impacted by a DOL shutdown if iCert does not remain online, resulting in delays for both PERM processing and H-1B filings. PERM filings could be mailed if necessary.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded through fee-based petitions and applications and would not likely be affected by the shutdown. In addition, most Customs and Border Protection operations are considered an essential function, but if there are staffing cuts, it is possible that there would be some delays processing applications presented at the border and in border crossings. There may also be delays in waiver adjudication.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you with any new information.

For more information, or if you have any questions regarding the issues discussed in this Immigration Alert, please contact any of the following attorneys:

Washington, D.C.
Eleanor Pelta
Eric S. Bord

San Francisco
A. James Vázquez-Azpiri
Lance Nagel