USA: Status of immigration services during the government shutdown

As of the 1st of October the US federal government has been in shutdown, shutting all it”s non-essential services until a budget for the new financial year can be agreed upon in Congress. In regards to immigration services, those deemed necessary or in receipt of alternative funding have continued to operate, while other more non-essential, federally funded services have been shutdown.

Operational:

A major concern for all those seeking to travel to the US has been the status of border immigration services under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). All Ports of Entry to the US and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) remain fully operational, having been deemed necessary for the safety of life and protection of property. Notably, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), responsible for airport security screening, is also still operating, meaning passengers shouldn”t have to expect any additional  travel delays as a result of the shutdown.

As US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are funded by other funding sources, such as application and petition fees, they will continue to remain unaffected by the shutdown. As a result, all visa petitions, green card and naturalization applications will continue to be processed, while all corresponding interviews and biometric appointments for applicants will be upheld.

All US Embassies and Consulates abroad will remain open for as long as they continue to receive sufficient Federal funding during the shutdown. However, locally employed embassy and consulate staff have reportedly been furloughed, meaning possible delays to consular services maybe anticipated.

Shutdown:

One of the few services shutdown under the DHS is the E-Verify online system offered to US businesses to determine the eligibility of foreign employees to work in the US. The over 404,000 employers enrolled in the system are unable to verify employment eligibility, while employees are conversely unable to resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs), which may refute their employment eligibility in the US.

Perhaps of most concern, is the shutting down of the Department of Labor”s (DOL) iCERT and PERM online filing systems. Consequently, Permanent Labor Certifications (PERM) and Labor Condition Applications, necessary for H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, H-2A, and H-2B visa applications have been rendered unavailable. Moreover, it still remains unclear as to whether any concessions may be offered to employees whose legal status in the US under such visas may soon be expiring.

With the 17th of October debt ceiling deadline looming, there is currently no indication of an end to the government shutdown, meaning further immigration services may have to be shutdown or at least begin operating in a limited capacity.

If you have any queries about US immigration, please feel free to contact us on 0207 0012121.

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