How US shutdown can affect H1B and student visa processes?


The US is just 4 days away from a possible government shutdown which is likely to cause political turmoil and disruptions in government services. Though US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is funded by fees paid by stakeholders, and it is not dependent on congressional appropriations to fund its operations, but there are certain services that might be affected due to the shutdown. 

Previously, government shutdown had caused major delays, and recognising those USCIS has cited ‘government shutdown-related delays as excusable’, which can impact services like H-1B extensions without requiring employees to leave the USA.

Here are list of immigration services that can get affected by the shutdown:

US labour department processing H-1B, E-3, and visas

US labour department processes labor condition applications for H-1B, E-3, and H-1B1. Since, the department will shutdown, these services will get hit. 

Similarly, processing of prevailing wage, PERM labor certification, and other operations of the DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will cease. 

Also people working for this department wont be available to respond to inquiries, and web-based systems for filing, status checks, and uploading documents, among other features,

Visa and passport operations through state department

These operations are not fee-funded so there is no worry of an impact due to lack of fund, however, consular availability and processing may be affected as the office may remain shut.

“If a consulate is impacted by the shutdown, then it is likely that services will be limited to diplomatic visas and extreme emergencies,” cited Morgan Lewis. 

Student and Exchange Visitor Program through ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement and removal operations will continue, and ICE attorneys will typically focus on the detained docket during a shutdown. So, in that case, ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) offices (for, e.g., F-1, J-1, M-1 visas) will remain operational as  SEVP is funded by fees 

Immigration review

During a lapse in congressional funding, immigration court cases on the detained docket will proceed as scheduled, while nondetained docket cases will be rescheduled for a later date when funding is restored. Courts with detained dockets will continue to accept and process filings related to detained cases. Courts exclusively handling nondetained cases will remain closed and won’t accept any filings, Morgan Lewis informed. 

CIS Ombudsman (Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman)

The DHS Office of the CIS Ombudsman would close and would not accept any inquiries through its online case intake system

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Updated: 27 Sep 2023, 04:01 PM IST


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