Why Proper Planning is Important During a Government Shutdown

Practice Areas

By: Omar Nazarkhan

As of today, January 22, 2018, Congress is expected to move to reopen the government after a three-day full shutdown. This resolve finds Democrats joining Republicans in advancing a measure that would effectively fund the government through February 8, 2018.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which represents more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors, has outlined how the operations of immigration-related agencies would be impacted if the shutdown were to continue.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): USCIS is a fee-funded agency with the exception of E-Verify, so if the government shuts down, only E-Verify shuts down. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

Department of State (DOS): Visa and passport operations are fee-funded and should not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations, but operating status and funding will need to be monitored closely. If visa operations are affected, consular posts will generally only handle diplomatic visas and “life or death” emergencies.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Inspection and law enforcement personnel are considered “essential.” Ports of entry will be open; however, processing of applications filed at the border may be impacted.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): ICE enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices are unaffected since SEVP is funded by fees.

Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR): EOIR’s detained docket is typically considered an essential function and would therefore continue to operate. During the 2013 shutdown, EOIR continued to accept court filings, even in non-detained cases.

Department of Labor (DOL): The OFLC would cease processing all applications in the event of a government shutdown, and personnel would not be available to respond to e-mail or other inquiries. OFLC’s web-based systems, iCERT and PERM, would be inaccessible, and BALCA dockets will be placed on hold.

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman): The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system.

Cited from AILA Doc No. 17042640 (dated 1/18/2018). Practice Alert: What Happens if the Government Shuts Down?

Why Planning Ahead is Important Over the Next 3 Weeks

Given the current state of government action, it is imperative for employers to seek sound advice and to plan properly for any unexpected changes. We encourage employers to do the following:

  • Work with your Immigration Practitioner to address any questions or concerns you should have regarding the impact this shutdown will continue to have on current or future filings; and
  • Plan Ahead, especially with the impending H-1B Cap season (FY 2019).

How Employers Can Stay Updated During this Period

Chugh, LLP will continue to monitor the next stages of this issue. To contact us for more information or to subscribe to out newsletter, email us at info.chugh.com. Please share this and future alerts with other colleagues who might be affected by this situation.


AILA Doc. No. 17042640 (1/18/2018). Practice Alert: What Happens if the Government Shuts Down?

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