Impact of Potential Government Shutdown on U.S. Immigration Services

Following the passage of several continuing resolutions, Congress now has until midnight tonight (January 19, 2018) to pass a spending bill or another continuing resolution to keep the Federal government funded.  If Congress is not able to come to an agreement this would result in a government shutdown that would impact several government agencies responsible for administering parts of various immigration and visa programs.  While the situation continues to develop, we outline below the impact of a government shutdown on the various Federal immigration functions should Congress fail to take action prior to the deadline:

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Omnibus Appropriations Bill Contains Fee Increase for H-1B and L-1 Supplemental Fees

The omnibus appropriations bill, which was singed into law last week, includes a provision to increase the H-1B and L-1 supplemental fees for companies with more than 50 employees, that have 50% or more of their employees in H-1B or L-1 status. The supplemental fees for L-1 petitions will increase from $2,250 to $4,500 and the supplemental fees for H-1B petitions will increase from $2,000 to $4,000.  Under the new law, these fees must be paid upon initial filing as well as for extension petitions.

This provision is effective immediately, which may impact individuals who filed petitions on December 18, 2015, or shortly thereafter, with the old fee amount.  It is unclear whether a grace period will be put in place which will allow USCIS to accept the case and then request the proper supplemental fee by issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE). 

Employers and attorneys should keep these fee increases in mind as we approach H-1B cap filing season.  The fees will be in effect for at least 10 years, until September 30, 2025, and are not expected to have a substantial impact on demand for either the H-1B or L-1 visa. 

D&S will continue to monitor and provide updates as they become available.

D&S Legislative Update: Omnibus Spending Bill Passed by the House, Up for Vote in the Senate

In the late hours of Tuesday evening, December 15, 2015, after days of intense negotiations, Congressional leadership announced that it has reached a sweeping year-end deal on the omnibus federal spending bill needed to continue to fund the Federal government. This announcement follows the five-day continuing resolution passed by Congress on December 10, 2015, to allow for additional time for the omnibus federal spending bill to be finalized and avoid a government shutdown.

On Thursday, December 17, 2015, the House passed the spending bill by a vote of 318 to 109.  The Senate is expected to vote on and pass the bill on Friday, December 18, 2015.  The omnibus appropriations bill contains a recommendation to extend the EB-5 program in its current form through September 30, 2016, without the widely discussed changes to the minimum investment amounts or the definition of Targeted Employment Area (TEA).  In addition to extending the EB-5 program, the bill will also extend other expiring immigration programs, including the E-verify program, Conrad 30 waivers for J-1 medical workers, and R-1 visas for religious workers. Finally, the bill contains reforms to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including the requirement that program users have electronic passports with biometric and biographic information and restricting use of the program for certain individuals who have traveled to Iraq, Sudan, Iran and Syria.

UPDATE: On Friday, December 18, 2015, the U.S. Senate approved the spending bill by a vote of 65 to 33. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law no later than December 18th.