Special Immigration Alert: The Immigration Ripple Effect of a Government Shutdown

The looming prospect of a Government shutdown will have a significant impact on the immigration process. Activities of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be largely unaffected because it is funded by the fees it collects. The shutdown, however, may affect the ability of applicants to secure the government information required to respond to Requests for Evidence. The shutdown also will affect the activities of other agencies, specifically the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. State Department (DOS), in the following ways:

  1. Passports: The DOS will stop processing passport applications except in "life or death" situations.
  2. Visa processing: Embassies and consulates abroad will only process "life or death" emergency visa applications.
  3. Border crossing: Admissions through all U.S. ports of entry will slow considerably and some ports may be closed. Applications filed at the border, such as those lodged under NAFTA, may not be adjudicated.
  4. PERM Labor Certifications, Prevailing Wage Determinations, and Labor Condition Applications: The DOL will cease processing all applications.
  5. E-Verify: E-Verify will cease operation.

In the event of a government shutdown, most agencies are not authorized to incur additional obligations except in "emergency" situations that immediately involve the safety of life or the protection of property. Law enforcement, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the border, are considered essential for this purpose, although less essential CBP functions, such as tourist travel and border adjudications, may be significantly impacted.

We will provide additional updates as this situation unfolds.