The partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government is in its second month and is beginning to affect some immigration-related services that impact employers, travelers and U.S. missions abroad.

On Thursday, the Senate failed to pass two competing bills aimed at ending the shutdown. A prolonged shutdown could have a widespread impact on immigration services. Government operations that are funded through budget appropriations are suspended, but services funded by fees are not affected until their fee-based funding runs out.

Key points:

  • E-Verify. The system remains unavailable, and therefore the three-day deadline to submit an E-Verify query is suspended. However, employers should be aware that they are still required to complete Form I-9 for all new hires and to complete reverifications under the regulatory guidelines.
  • Visa services. Consular operations, including visa services at U.S. missions abroad, are fee-funded and still operating normally. If the shutdown is prolonged and causes funding to run out or consular staff to be cut back, applicants should expect delays.
  • Border control. Some functions of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are affected by the shutdown. Travelers should leave additional time when traveling through U.S. ports of entry and anticipate delays at immigration clearance gates. Foreign nationals should ensure that their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record is correctly stamped before leaving the port of entry because the number of CBP officers and Deferred Inspections offices available to correct any errors remains limited or unavailable.

BAL Analysis: Employers and international travelers should plan for a potentially lengthy shutdown as lawmakers appear far from agreement on how to break the impasse. In particular, companies using E-Verify are reminded that they are still required to fulfil all Form I-9 obligations while E-Verify is unavailable. BAL recommends that companies maintain their lists of new hires since Dec. 22, 2018 to ensure that all new hires are properly submitted to E-Verify when the system reopens. Companies should notify employees who are traveling to the U.S. to make sure that their I-94 stamp correctly reflects their permitted duration of stay in the U.S. before leaving the immigration entry gate, as CBP has limited resources to correct or update any errors.

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

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