What are the immigration consequences from the Federal Government shutdown? Beginning today, many portions of the United States federal government began shutting down. There is actually semi-good news about the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). CIS is funded by user fees so there will be little or no impact on CIS. Interviews and processing of petitions and applications will continue, uninterrupted. In fact, the only real impact on Department of Homeland Security operations will be that their web sites will not be actively managed. Portions of ICE and CBP are deemed to be essential functions and will continue operations.
The same is not true for all related areas of Government. For example, the EOIR (think Immigration Court) will be operating only with respect to cases involving detained aliens. All other cases and court filings are shut down.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) will continue as many normal operations as possible. Because the appropriations funding for DOS is extremely complex (some DOS entities have appropriated funds that expire after one year, some accounts are 2-year funds, and some are no-year funds), they will be monitoring available funding and will reduce operations as and when necessary.
The U.S. Department of Labor may be the hardest hit by the Government shut down. Their Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will be closed and employees placed on furlough. Consequently, they will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC's web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System and the PERM system, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts. Similarly, DOL's Office of Administrative Law Judges will be unable to perform any case-related activities, including conducting hearings. Hearings that have been previously scheduled will therefore be cancelled prior to the date of the hearing, and they will not be rescheduled for hearing until an appropriations bill or continuing resolution takes effect.
Sadly, the focus on the budget and the Government shutdown is pushing immigration reform further down the road. You can do your part by visiting Miley & Brown, P.C. at www.mileybrown.com and selecting "Contact Congress" to tell your Representative that you support a comprehensive reform bill that will bring our system into the 21st century by legalizing millions of aspiring immigrants and creating jobs for U.S. workers. If you have any questions please contact one of our Dallas based immigration attorneys at www.mileybrown.com.