USCIS Issues Guidance Regarding Handling of Certain I-129 Petitions Affected by the Government Shutdown

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During the government shutdown between October 1 and October 17, 2013, while the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was operational as usual, the Department of Labor (DOL) was not.  This affected the ability of individuals to file with the USCIS applications that require, as a prerequisite, an approved application from the DOL.  As a result, important applications, including those for new employment and extensions for expiring employment authorization, could not be filed.  Deadlines occurring during the shutdown could not be met and the beneficiaries of such applications lapsed out of status.

On October 18, 2013, the USCIS published guidance regarding the handling of certain applications affected by the shutdown as described above.  Specifically, the USCIS announced that if an H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B petitioner submits evidence establishing that the primary reason for failing to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request was due to the government shutdown, USCIS will consider the government shutdown as an extraordinary circumstance and excuse the late filing, if the petitioner meets all other applicable requirements.