Liu & Associates
USCIS Operations Continue Despite Government Shutdown
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Public Engagement Division, USCIS operations are continuing despite the Federal Government shutdown. The fee-for-service activities performed by USCIS are not affected by a lapse in annual appropriated funding; thus, USCIS operations are not hindered. As such, all USCIS offices worldwide remain open for interviews and appointments as scheduled. E-Verify is the only exception and is unavailable during the shutdown. For more information about how the shutdown is affecting E-Verify, please visit www.dhs.gov/e-verify. Otherwise, there is no need to be concerned about the continuing operations of USCIS. For our clients, this means that Form I-140 and I-130 petitions and Form I-485 and ancillary applications filed with USCIS should continue to be processed and adjudicated as normal.
In addition, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will continue as many normal operations as possible. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, operating status and available funding for the DOS should be monitored continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations should be continued.
However, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)'s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) functions are not "excepted" from the shutdown, and its employees would be placed in furlough status should a lapse in appropriated funds occur. Thus, OFLC will netiher accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses) it receives, including Labor Condition Applications (LCA), Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD), Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification (PERM). In a government shutdown, the OFLC's website, including the iCERT Visa Portal System, would become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts. For our clients, this would mean a delay in processing and filing of the H-1B petitions and PERM applications because DOL will not be processing LCAs and PERMs during this time.
In summary, USCIS and DOS continue to remain in operation, whereas the DOL/OFLC is temporarily hindered.