With only seven hours left on the last day of the U.S. government's fiscal year, Congress approved a temporary spending measure to keep federal agencies, including relevant immigration programs, operating through December 11, 2015. The bill was approved 257 to 151, with 186 Democrats and 91 Republicans in favor. Congress will now have to negotiate a longer-term budget solution in order to avoid another potential shutdown in December.
WHO THIS IMPACTS
As a reminder, in the event of a shutdown immigration functions which are not fee-based and which are deemed “non-essential” would be suspended. This primarily includes Department of Labor (DOL) operations, including the filing of Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) used for H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 filings, prevailing wage determinations issued by the DOL, and PERM Labor Certification Applications and Audit responses. The E-Verify system is also likely to be unavailable during a shutdown but employers are still able to process I-9s.
Immigration functions which are considered “essential” and those which are fee-based (including Customs and Border Protection operations and adjudication of most filings with USCIS respectively) would be expected to continue even in the event of a shutdown. However, disruption to these programs or delays caused by the shutdown are possible, most notably cases which require an LCA as part of the filing as outlined above. The Department of State (DOS) is also expected to continue to process visa applications provided fee-based funds remain available to cover its operations.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Due to the potential unavailability of many key immigration-related DOL programs in the event if a shutdown in December, urgent LCAs or PERM applications should still be filed as soon as possible to avoid any delays in the event a longer-term budget solution is not in place before the new deadline.
D&S will continue to monitor the situation and post updates as they become available.