RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN BUSINESS IMMIGRATION LAW
Impact of Government Shutdown on Immigration Matters
We have received numerous questions from clients about how today’s partial federal government “shutdown” will affect immigration adjudications and other related matters. Here is what we know so far:
As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operations are primarily funded through user filing fees (rather than federal government appropriations), we expect the agency to continue operating as normal. All petitions and applications will continue to be accepted during the shutdown.
Unfortunately, the Department of Labor (DOL) has indicated that it will neither accept nor process any applications or other materials (including audit responses) it receives during the shutdown, including Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), Prevailing Wage Determination applications, or PERM applications. Although the iCERT and Office of Foreign Labor Certification websites continue to function normally as of Tuesday morning, it is likely that the DOL will be unable to process any applications that are submitted during the shutdown, and users may be asked to re-submit any applications that were submitted during the government closure period.
The DOL’s suspension of activities are obviously of paramount concern to many of our clients – particularly those dealing with difficult timing issues. We will therefore keep you apprised of any developments as soon as they become available.
Department of State: Visa processing at consulates overseas will remain “100% operational” as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. There does not appear to be any imminent threat of suspension of visa processing at any consulate due to the shutdown. However, this could change with little notice.
E-Verify: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has advised that citizens and U.S. businesses will not be able to access E-Verify, the Internet-based system that allows employers to determine the eligibility of prospective employees to work in the U.S., during the shutdown. Please note, however, that the shutdown does not in any way affect the requirement that employers complete a Form I-9 for each new employee within three business days of the employee’s start date. If your company uses E-Verify but cannot access the system due to the shutdown, please print and complete a hard copy of the I-9 (available at www.uscis.gov/i-9) for any new hires or re-verifications. You can then enter this I-9 information into E-Verify once the system becomes available. (The E-Verify “three day rule”, in which an E-Verify case is considered late if created later than the third business day after the employee first started for pay, has been suspended to accommodate entries submitted into the system late due to the shutdown.)
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide you with updates when available.