US Immigration Consequences of the Government’s October 1 Shutdown
October 1, 2013 | Tags: DOL
While we don't know whether there will be a bandaid-style fix during this week (or perhaps weeks) of shutdown as the standoff between the administration and Congress continues, we thought it would be helpful to highlight what our clients can expect during the shutdown:
Agencies that remain open:
USCIS: Primarily funded by user (filing) fees, the USCIS will continue to accept and adjudicate eligible petitions. Left out in the cold are employers who can't yet file H-1B visa petitions because they are waiting to obtain U.S. Department of Labor certifications of their underlying, required Labor Condition Applications since the DOL is now shut down (see below). The USCIS has not indicated whether it will accept petitions with evidence that the Labor Condition Application is pending or that filing was attempted. USCIS offices remain open, so interviews and appointments (such as biometrics appointments) will proceed as scheduled.
Dept. of State: Consulates and Embassies have confirmed that they remain up and running, and do not anticipate a forced closure before the government resumes. As a result, employees should be able to continue to obtain nonimmigrant visa stamps at U.S. Consulates.
Customs and Border Protection: Ports of entry are supposed to remain open, though they likely will be understaffed. Employees should plan for some delays in adjudication.
U.S. Dept. of Labor: The DOL's website announcement confirms that it is completely shut down. In addition to the adjudication process being stopped for pending Labor Condition Applications, Prevailing Wage Determinations, and PERM applications, employers are not able to submit any such applications.
E-Verify: The government's E-Verify website indicates that it is shut down. Employers are not be able to register to be an E-Verify employer, nor are they able to verify new hires.
WSM is assessing all cases and is reaching out to clients on deadline and other issues needing direct strategic planning. We do predict that the government, once up and running again, will offer a "rule of reason" approach to filing deadlines missed or status issues resulting through no fault of employers or employees, under the "nunc pro tunc" doctrine. Stay tuned.
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