The government shutdown that began in the United States on October 1st finally came to an end yesterday. The shutdown has had a negative impact on immigration processing when it comes to matters that are dealt with by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State and the Department of Labor.
In the midst of the shutdown the Department of Labor was unable to process Labor Condition Applications, which meant that employers’ ability to hire E-3, H-1B and H-1B1 workers was limited. The closure of the Department of Labor also stopped employers from being able to file PERM labor certification applications or process prevailing wage requests, thereby entirely blocking employers from beginning the process of sponsoring foreign nationals to get a green card.
As of October 17th however, the agencies from the Department of Homeland Security that deal with immigration are now once again fully staffed, including the likes of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is the agency that holds jurisdiction over the E-Verify system. In regards to E-Verify, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has published detailed guidance online on how situations that might have arisen during the government shutdown, such as tentative non-confirmations, should be handled by employers.
Worldwide consulates and the Department of State all stayed open during the shutdown, but there was a considerable slowing in the processing of visa applications. There is likely to now be a ramp-up period in order to get through backlogs prior to the resumption of regular processing times.