As the government shutdown enters its third week, many employers are beginning to wonder what impacts the shutdown will have on their international workforces. The good news – most services provided by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are fee-funded, and do not depend on government fund appropriation.
With that being said, some USCIS programs are impacted by the government shutdown including:
E-Verify is a free, internet-based program used by employers to check employment eligibility of workers. Employers who rely on the program can hire individuals during the shutdown but should fill out required I-9 paperwork and run E-Verify checks once the website is reactivated.
Conrad Waiver applications currently underway will not be impacted. However, because annual re-authorization of the Conrad 30 program is tied to the appropriations bill, new applications for the Conrad Waiver program could be impacted if an appropriation bill with Conrad re-authorization is not passed by the start of the fiscal year in October.
Other Impacts on Visa Programs
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center programs will shut down, but EB-5 applications outside of the centers will continue to be processed. Applications will not be accepted for Non-Minister Religious Workers, used by non-ministers in religious occupations to immigrate or adjust status to work in full-time compensated position in the United States.
Implications for Visa Holders Travelling Abroad
As with USCIS, visa processing through the Department of State is funded through fees attached to the visa application. However, as nonessential State Department Visa are furloughed during the shutdown, consular processing times will likely increase. Foreign visa holders who are planning to renew their nonimmigrant visa during travel abroad should plan on prolonged wait times, especially if administrative processing is needed.
No Projected Impacts on Department of Labor
In past years, federal government shutdowns have impacted the Department of Labor, and by extension, Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) and PERM Labor Certification Applications. The Department of Labor has secured funding to continue operations through September 20, 2019, so we do not anticipate impacts to this year’s H-1B Cap lottery, or to PERM applications and LCAs.
While we have seen little to no impact from the government shutdown so far, our team of attorneys and paralegals are constantly monitoring for changes that could impact our clients. Contact us today if you have questions or if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with an attorney.