Nonessential government functions, including many related to immigration, were suspended Saturday after Congress failed to reach an agreement on a spending plan to keep the government operating. Lawmakers intend to continue budget talks over the weekend, hoping to come to an agreement on a spending measure to reopen the government. A number of immigration services will be impacted until a deal is reached.

Key points:

  • The Department of Labor will suspend operation of its immigration functions until a new spending measure is approved. The department’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification will stop accepting and processing immigration-related applications, including PERM applications, labor condition applications, applications for prevailing wage determinations and temporary employment certifications.
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue processing visas, but delays should be anticipated. Any USCIS petition requiring action by the Labor Department will be directly affected. Employers will not be able to file labor condition applications, a prerequisite to H-1B, E-3 and H-1B1 filings, including extensions of status and changes of employers for those categories. USCIS will continue to accept and process other immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions, including adjustment of status (green card) applications. Cases that have been selected for administrative processing will likely face delays.
  • The State Department will continue processing visas and passports so long as funds are available. Domestic and overseas consular offices should remain functioning, so long as fees collected from applications are sufficient to support operations. American citizens applying for or renewing passports will be impacted by closures of federal buildings during a shutdown. Depending on the length of the shutdown, visa and passport processing could be significantly delayed.
  • A number of immigration programs will be unavailable until they are reauthorized, including the E-Verify program, the Conrad 30 waiver for J-1 physicians, the Special Immigrant Religious Workers program, and the EB-5 regional center investor program.
  • Additional information on how the shutdown will affect immigration programs is available here.

Background: Immigration is at the heart of the budget fight, with Democrats pushing for protection for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as part of any long-term deal. The two sides could not come to an agreement Friday leading to the first government shutdown since 2013.

BAL Analysis: The shutdown will have a significant effect on a number of immigration services, particularly if it is prolonged. BAL will continue to follow developments related to the budget negotiations, and will alert clients to any significant developments. Those with urgent immigration needs that may be affected by the shutdown should contact their BAL professional immediately to discuss the best options currently available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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